I want to take you all back to a very dark time. The lean years. The down years. The “things can’t possibly get any worse” years. The Nolan and Singletary years.
If there was any positive to take away from that forgettable era in San Francisco 49ers history, it was the draft picks. Starting in 2005, when Mike Nolan took over for Dennis Erickson, the team began to build a powerhouse. With the number one overall selection, they took Alex Smith, whose career is finally starting to take shape after Jim Harbaugh got his hands on him. The Niners also selected two players still with the team, both third rounders, Adam Snyder and, the franchise leader in rushing yards, Frank Gore. The following year, they took Vernon Davis with the sixth overall choice and also added key contributors Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson and Delanie Walker.
2007 yielded another strong crop of talent, seeing the additions of first round choices Patrick Willis and Joe Staley, as well as Ray McDonald, Dashon Goldson and Tarell Brown. While 2008 was largely forgettable, 2009 brought Michael Crabtree and Ricky Jean-Francois and 2010 netted their best draft in three years, landing Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, Anthony Dixon and NaVorro Bowman.
After building the Niners into a defensive powerhouse, the 2011 draft, the first under the Harbaugh regime, was the beginning of the restructuring of the offense. Along with Aldon Smith, the 49ers added current signal caller Colin Kaepernick as well as Kendall Hunter, Daniel Kilgore and seventh-round choice Bruce Miller. The 2012 class hasn’t panned out, especially with LaMichael James likely to be traded (possibly this weekend), but last year’s draft has shown plenty of promise. The Red and Gold brought in starting safety Eric Reid and promising prospects in Vance McDonald, Corey Lemonier, Quinton Patton, Cornellius “Tank” Carradine and Marcus Lattimore.
Will this year’s draft breed the next crop of talent in the City by the Bay? Tune in Thursday-Saturday to find out, and be sure to check 49ers360.com as we keep you updated on the Niners picks.
You can follow me on Twitter @mrandyparker