Maybe the 49ers should stick with players out of Iowa in Round 5 of the NFL Draft.
While George Kittle is this generation’s version of top fifth-round selections by San Francisco, the previous generation would easily tout defensive back Merton Hanks as the No. 1 player the franchise selected in this round.
And those who remember watching Hanks patrol the Niners secondary between 1991 and 1998 will easily back up that statement.
The 49ers were moving on from Ronnie Lott in 1991, and the transition to Hanks ended up being one of the smoothest the team could have ever envisioned. Transferring to free safety, Hanks would put up some of the best defensive seasons in team history, using his long and lanky frame to record 31 interceptions — fourth all time among 49ers players — and 474 tackles.
Even more impressive, Hanks would be named a Pro Bowler for four straight years between 1994 and 1997, even earning first-team All-Pro accolades in 1995.
As it stands, Hanks currently has a more impressive resume than Kittle, which will probably change in the near future.
For now, Hanks is the Niners’ No. 1 Round 5 NFL Draft pick of all time.