San Francisco 49ers: 20 worst NFL Draft picks in franchise history

Quarterback Alex Smith (Utah) drafted first overall by the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Quarterback Alex Smith (Utah) drafted first overall by the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) /
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Solomon Thomas, NFL Draft, 49ers
Solomon Thomas of Stanford with Commissioner Roger Goodell during the 2017 NFL Draft (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

With the 2020 NFL Draft not far away, the San Francisco 49ers hope to avoid many of the draft-day pitfalls they’ve had in previous years. Niner Noise breaks down the top 20 worst draft picks the team has had in its history.

The NFL Draft is a craps shoot, and franchises around the league are all too aware of this. And this includes the San Francisco 49ers.

The Niners have plenty of noteworthy picks throughout their storied history. The team took a chance on a less-than-heralded quarterbacking prospect out of Notre Dame named Joe Montana. San Francisco also struck gold with linebacker Patrick Willis in 2007 and injury-concern running back Frank Gore two years before.

But on the flip side, the 49ers have also gone through their fair share of draft gaffes.

Look no further than the 2012 first-round selection of wide receiver A.J. Jenkins as a perfect example. He and plenty of other Niners not-so greats don the list of draft mistakes San Francisco has made.

And there are more than enough to compile a list of 20 players who never lived up to expectations.

So in order to create this list, we need to set some criteria. First, draft selections will need to have taken place since 1970. Far more draft information exists from that date forward. Additionally, players needed to have been selected between Rounds 1 through 3. There were plenty of bad players selected in subsequent rounds, but these first three generally are considered target areas for above-average NFL talent.

Lastly, and most importantly, the drafted player actually had to go “bust” or fall way short of expectations, not merely be an OK player who never lived up to what the team had hoped.

Although there may be some exceptions to the final criteria.

So look no further as Niner Noise breaks down the 20 worst draft picks in franchise history dating back to 1970.