49ers NFL Draft history: Quarterbacks selected in Round 1

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 3: John Brodie #12 of San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during an NFL football game October 3, 1971 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Brodie played for the 49ers from 1957-73. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 3: John Brodie #12 of San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during an NFL football game October 3, 1971 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Brodie played for the 49ers from 1957-73. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers haven’t selected too many quarterbacks in Round 1 of the NFL Draft. But those who were picked have a unique and up-and-down legacy.

The last time the San Francisco 49ers selected a quarterback in Round 1 of the NFL Draft was back in 2005 when the team, coming off a 2-14 record the previous year, owned the No. 1 overall pick.

San Francisco’s pick, of course, was former Utah quarterback Alex Smith.

According to the stories, then-head coach Mike Nolan was split between drafting Smith and Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers, yet Nolan ultimately decided to go with the former for reasons which now stand in Niners infamy. Smith eventually managed to have a productive and relatively successful career, although Rodgers is a shoo-in first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Those first years for Smith were dark, yes. Mired in an ever-changing landscape of offensive coordinators, sub-par talent and injuries, Smith fell out of favor with Nolan, eventually gained some faith back under short-term head coach Mike Singletary before finally catching on for a season-plus under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Fans remember what happened in the middle of the 2012 season, of course, when Smith suffered a concussion and gave way to Harbaugh’s eventual choice, Colin Kaepernick.

Smith was moved to the Kansas City Chiefs the following offseason.

The 49ers’ selection of Smith seems to epitomize the franchise’s overall success with taking quarterbacks in Round 1 of the NFL Draft. He’s merely the last of eight first-round quarterbacks selected by San Francisco.

Thankfully, there was some excellent success early in in the team’s history.

Y.A. Tittle — No. 3 Overall, 1951 NFL Draft

Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle actually played three seasons for the AFL’s Baltimore Colts before the Niners grabbed him with the third overall pick in the 1951 draft.

Tittle’s best years came towards the end of his career with the New York Giants. But those 10 seasons in San Francisco were pretty epic, too, which saw four Pro Bowls and one first-team All-Pro selection.

His 16,016 pass yards with the 49ers ranks fifth best in franchise history.

Bernie Faloney — No. 11 Overall, 1954 NFL Draft

San Francisco used its Round 1 pick on Maryland quarterback Bernie Faloney to back up Tittle, as well as play defensive back.

But Faloney chose to play in Canada instead, making this selection a gaffe.

Imagine if something like that happened today.

Earl Morrall — No. 2 Overall, 1956 NFL Draft

The 49ers tried again to back up Brodie in 1956, this time with former Michigan State quarterback Earl Morrall, who started four games his rookie season before being traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers for two first-round draft picks.

At least the Niners recouped their investment on the double, while Morrall would enjoy a productive 21-year career with six different teams.

John Brodie — No. 3 Overall, 1957 NFL Draft

San Francisco’s attempts to back up Brodie finally worked in 1957 with the team selecting the longest-tenured signal-caller in franchise history, John Brodie, with the No. 3 overall pick in that year’s NFL Draft.

Brodie had to wait until 1961 to get his full-time chance to start — the year the Niners officially moved on from Tittle. And while the former didn’t have the same Hall of Fame-caliber career as the player he replaced, Brodie could easily be put into a top-five list of all-time 49ers quarterbacking greats.

If for no other reason than longevity.

In all, Brodie played 17 seasons in the NFL, all with the 49ers. His 31,548 pass yards rank second all time on the franchise list, while his 214 pass touchdowns rank third behind Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young.

While he might not be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his No. 12 is retired by the 49ers franchise.

Billy Kilmer — No. 11 Overall, 1961 NFL Draft

Wildcat options and formations were a thing back in the 1960s, which is what the Niners did with their third first-round pick of the 1961 NFL Draft, Billy Kilmer.

Kilmer rushed for nearly 1,000 yards his first two seasons in San Francisco, ultimately going to the New Orleans Saints in the 1967 expansion draft.

Steve Spurrier — No. 3 Overall, 1967 NFL Draft

With Kilmer not a long-term option to replace Brodie, the 49ers elected to go with former Florida quarterback Steve Spurrier with their first pick in the 1967 NFL Draft.

He started two games his rookie season, also serving as the team’s punter, but it wasn’t until Brodie missed all but six games in 1972 where Spurrier got an extended look under center, tossing 18 touchdowns and nearly 2,000 yards that season.

Spurrier would wrap up his playing career with one season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976 before returning to his alma mater as an eventual College Football Hall of Fame coach.

Jim Druckenmiller — No. 26 Overall, 1997 NFL Draft

On most lists for 49ers all-time draft busts, you’ll find the name Jim Druckenmiller.

The idea was to find an heir apparent for the future Hall of Famer, Young, letting the rookie develop under Young’s tutelage for the next couple of seasons or so. At least that’s what then-head coach Steve Mariucci thought.

Instead, Druckenmiller completed a mere 10 passes in his lone start that year, tossing three interceptions in the process. He added a touchdown in another game that season, albeit against another interception.

Next. 49ers' 10 worst quarterbacks in franchise history. dark

San Francisco wisely admitted the mistake by trading Druckenmiller to the Miami Dolphins in 1999.