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Rank the last 10 49ers’ draft classes

The 2012 draft remains one of the worst in franchise history.

Photo by MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers are in an interesting position heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. The Niners traded up to get the No. 3 overall pick from the Miami Dolphins, something you don’t often see from a team with a roster ready to compete for a Super Bowl.

General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan are open about the fact that the team will be selecting a QB, with the selection likely being one of Justin Fields, Mac Jones or Trey Lance.

The 49ers hold a total of nine picks going into the draft and still have a few positions of need. The team could use some short-and-long-term depth in the secondary and could add some size to beef up the trenches.

This year’s draft will be the fifth that Lynch and Shanahan are overseeing. Although the Niners got superstar tight end George Kittle in 2017, the organization also whiffed on its pair of first-round picks at that particular draft.

Let’s take a look back at the previous 10 drafts for the 49ers. Former general manager Trent Baalke was running the show from 2011-2016 before he was let go in favor of Lynch.


Round 1: Aldon Smith (DE)
Round 2: Colin Kaepernick (QB)
Round 3: Chris Culliver (CB)
Round 4: Kendall Hunter (RB)
Round 5: Daniel Kilgore (C)
Round 6: Ronald Johnson (WR)
Round 6: Colin Jones (DB)
Round 7: Bruce Miller (DE to FB)
Round 7: Mike Person (OL)
Round 7: Curtis Holcomb (DB)

This was quite the haul for San Francisco. The first five picks all contributed to the 2012 NFC Champion squad that came up just short in the Super Bowl. Miller also played a role during Jim Harbaugh’s short-run as the head coach, but legal issues caused the organization to move on. Person found his way back to the Bay Area after being released following his rookie season. He was the starting right guard on the 2019 49ers that went 13-3 and went to the Super Bowl.


Round 1: A.J. Jenkins (WR)
Round 2: LaMichael James (RB)
Round 4: Joe Looney (OL)
Round 5: Darius Fleming (LB)
Round 6: Trent Robinson (DB)
Round 6: Jason Slowey (OL)
Round 7: Cam Johnson (DE)

One of the worst draft classes of all time. The Niners got nothing from every player on the list.


Round 1: Eric Reid (S)
Round 2: Tank Carradine (DE)
Round 2: Vance McDonald (TE)
Round 3: Corey Lemonier (DE)
Round 4: Quinton Patton (WR)
Round 4: Marcus Lattimore (RB)
Round 5: Quinton Dial (DL)
Round 6: Nick Moody (LB)
Round 7: B.J. Daniels (QB)
Round 7: Carter Bykowski (OL)
Round 7: Marcus Cooper (DB)

Reid, McDonald and Dial all had their moments while with San Francisco. Carradine’s knee problems carried over from college, while Patton never reached his potential as a pass-catcher. Lattimore came with injury concerns after a strong career at South Carolina, but could never overcome them.


Round 1: Jimmie Ward (DB)
Round 2: Carlos Hyde (RB)
Round 3: Marcus Martin (C)
Round 3: Chris Borland (LB)
Round 3: Brandon Thomas
Round 4: Bruce Ellington (WR)
Round 4: Dontae Johnson (CB)
Round 5: Aaron Lynch (DE)
Round 5: Keith Reaser (CB)
Round 6: Kenneth Acker (CB)
Round 7: Kaleb Ramsey (DE)
Round 7: Trey Millard (FB)

Another draft class that may not have produced any high-end players, but the Niners did get some quality seasons from Ward (who remains with the team), Hyde and Lynch. Borland looked like a steal but walked away after his rookie season due to the sport's risk of long-term brain injuries. Johnson has bounced around but remains a decent depth piece.


Round 1: Arik Armstead (DE)
Round 2: Jaquiski Tartt (S)
Round 3: Eli Harold (LB)
Round 4: Blake Bell (TE)
Round 4: Mike Davis (RB)
Round 4: DeAndre Smelter (WR)
Round 5: Bradley Pinion (P)
Round 6: Ian Silberman (OL)
Round 7: Trent Brown (OL)
Round 7: Rory Anderson (TE)

Only two players remain with the 49ers. Armstead and Tartt were starters on the 2019 team that made it to the Suoer Bowl, while Trent Brown was a great value pick in Round 7. Bell, Davis and Pinion remain in the league.


Round 1: DeForest Buckner (DE)
Round 1: Joshua Garnett (OL)
Round 3: Will Redmond (CB)
Round 4: Rashard Robinson (CB)
Round 5: Ronald Blair (DL)
Round 5: John Theus (OL)
Round 5: Fahn Cooper (OL)
Round 6: Jeff Driskel (QB)
Round 6: Kelvin Taylor (RB)
Round 6: Aaron Burbridge (WR)
Round 7: Prince Charles Iworah (CB)

Baalke’s final draft class wound up being another dud. Buckner has had an outstanding career so far, but Garnett never developed into the stalwart guard the 49ers were hoping for.


Round 1: Solomon Thomas (DL)
Round 1: Reuben Foster (LB)
Round 3: Ahkello Witherspoon (CB)
Round 3: C.J. Beathard (QB)
Round 4: Joe Williams (RB)
Round 5: George Kittle (TE)
Round 5: Trent Taylor (WR)
Round 6: D.J. Jones (DL)
Round 6: Pita Taumoepenu (OLB)
Round 7: Adrian Colbert (DB)

Lynch and Shanahan nabbed an All-Pro in Kittle in Round 5, and Jones continues to be a solid contributor. None of the other eight selections are currently on San Francisco’s roster.


Round 1: Mike McGlinchey (OL)
Round 2: Dante Pettis (WR)
Round 3: Fred Warner (LB)
Round 3: Tavarius Moore (S)
Round 4: Kentavius Street (DT)
Round 5: D.J. Reed (CB)
Round 6: Marcell Harris (S)
Round 7: Julian Taylor (DL)
Round 7: Richie James (WR)

Warner is easily the best pick of this draft class and will be among the best linebackers in the game for the foreseeable future. McGlinchey remains the starting right tackle going into his fourth season, while Moore, Harris and James are still getting some snaps with the team.


Round 1: Nick Bosa (DE)
Round 2: Deebo Samuel (WR)
Round 3: Jalen Hurd (WR)
Round 4: Mitch Wishnowsky (P)
Round 5: Dre Greenlaw (LB)
Round 6: Kaden Smith (TE)
Round 6: Justin Skule (OL)
Round 6: Tim Harris (CB)

The 2019 class is the best of Lynch and Shanahan’s tenure. Bosa is one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL, while Samuel and Greenlaw could become Pro Bowlers in the near future. Wishnowsky has been good in his role, while Skule remains an excellent value pick. It will be fascinating to see what Hurd brings to the table after missing two straight seasons due to injury.


Round 1: Javon Kinlaw (DT)
Round 1: Brandon Aiyuk (WR)
Round 5: Colton McKivitz (OT)
Round 6: Charlie Woerner (TE)
Round 7: Jauan Jennings (WR)

It’s too early the gauge what San Francisco will get from the 2020 class, but the early returns from Kinlaw and Aiyuk are promising.

How would you rank the last 10 49ers’ draft classes from best-to-worst?

Let us know in the comments below!