Every year, we take a look at the history of the picks where the 49ers are selecting in the NFL Draft. This year, since the team isn’t selecting in the first round, we go down to pick No. 61 to get an idea about the caliber of player the Niners could potentially land.
Surprisingly, there have been plenty of productive players drafted at 61. We’re only going back to 2012 when the 49ers drafted LaMichael James. But, before that, the Cowboys drafted Martellus Bennett, the Chargers Vincent Jackson, and the Lions Gerald Alexander, who now serves as Miami’s defensive backs coach.
2012 - LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
James possessed speed and athleticism that was sure to translate to the NFL. He was undersized, but that wouldn’t matter if you couldn’t catch him.
LaMike eventually requested his release after the 2014 season after an underwhelming tenure with the Niners. Some players are ahead of their time. James would have a role in today’s NFL. I picture him doing what Nyheim Hines does with the Colts.
2013 - Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Lacy ran for over 1,100 yards as a rookie, setting the Packer rookie record for most rushing yards and touchdowns in a season. He was also second-team All-Pro as a rookie. Lacy ran for over 1,100 yards in 2014, too, but injuries, concussions, and weight issues would prevent Lacy from a lengthy career.
2014, WR Allen Robinson, Penn State
Unfortunately for us, we’ll get to see Robinson’s talent first-hand this season. Since 2014, Robinson has had three seasons over 1,000 yards. To be fair, he’s barely played with a competent quarterback. Talent has never been the issue, as we saw Robinson go for 1,400 receiving yards in his second season.
Robinson missed a handful of games last season, so we’ll see if injuries sideline him with the Rams. He seems like a prime candidate to break out with Matthew Stafford.
2015 - OG Ali Marpet, Hobart
2016 - S Vonn Bell, Ohio State
2017 - Josh Jones, DB, NC State
2018 - D.J. Chark, WR, LSU
Marpet abruptly retired after a seven-year career where he made one Pro Bowl and had an argument as one of the best guards in the NFL.
Bell has appeared in every game outside of 2019. You can’t ask for more than that at this point in the draft. While he’s not a perennial Pro Bowler, Bell’s proven to be a solid starter for each team he’s played for.
Jones was a tweener coming into the league, so he had an uphill battle from the start. He started 13 games for the Jaguars in 2020 but has failed to catch on outside of that season. So you can’t blame Jones for the Packers over drafting him.
Chark was a 1,000-yard receiver in his second year as a Jaguar. Injuries kept him out of most of last season, but he’s a big-play threat who should continue to blossom. The Lions aren’t a juggernaut, so we still may never get a proper assessment of Chark’s talent. Still, you get the idea of the talent that falls to No. 61.
2019 - S Taylor Rapp, Washington
2020 - CB Kristian Fulton, LSU
2021 - EDGE Carlos Basham, Wake Forest
Rapp landed in the perfect spot as the Rams know how to get the most out of their players. Rapp had four interceptions last season and played a pivotal role at safety as he started all 17 games a year ago.
Fulton needs to stay healthy because the talent is there. He allowed a 51% completion percentage on 72 targets in his second season and only gave up two touchdowns. Fulton has the talent of a high-end CB2, which is ideal at this point in the draft.
Boogie played 39% of the snaps for the Bills as a rookie. If the Niners go edge at 61, this is the type of player they’re hoping to get—a rotational piece in Year 1 who develops into a starter.
As you can see, the 49ers, based on history, should wind up with a player who can contribute right away at 61.