LB, Michigan State, 2000
The 49ers used the No. 16 pick of the 2000 NFL Draft to select linebacker Julian Peterson of Michigan State University, and previously, Valley Forge Military Academy and College. Although primarily an outside linebacker, Peterson found himself playing a number of positions with the 49ers, including cornerback, safety, defensive lineman and linebacker during a single game.
Peterson wasn’t just versatile, he was also productive, amassing 21.5 sacks and 394 tackles in six seasons with the 49ers. Peterson was selected to two Pro Bowls, and was a First-Team and Second-Team All-Pro during his time in San Francisco.
The 49ers were forced to franchise-tag Peterson in both 2004 and 2005, but declined to franchise-tag him a third time after the linebacker was slow to recover from an Achilles injury, and the team was in obvious rebuilding mode. The NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks were quick to sign the free agent to a seven-year, $54 million contract.
Peterson had three consecutive Pro Bowl seasons in Seattle before the Seahawks traded the star to the Detroit Lions, where the linebacker played his final two seasons in the league. Peterson finished his 11-year NFL career with 51.5 sacks, 802 tackles and 21 forced fumbles.