The San Francisco 49ers have struck gold late in the NFL Draft before, and Niner Noise looks at some of the team’s best day-three selections in their storied history.
NFL rosters are built after day two of the draft. Given the NFL’s strict salary cap now, the fact the average career in the league is just over three years and the size of team rosters, a majority of teams are made up of players who did not hear their names called in either of the first three rounds of their respective drafts.
But these late-round picks are more than just depth. Approximately 60 percent of NFL starters are day-three picks or undrafted players signed after the draft. Further, as many as 40 percent of All-Pro selections in any given year are post-third-round selections.
Indeed, the San Francisco 49ers roster is full of such players making major contributions to the defending NFC champions: linebacker Kwon Alexander (Round 4), fullback Kyle Juszczyk (Round 4), cornerback Richard Sherman (Round 5), defensive lineman Ronald Blair (Round 5), nose tackle D.J. Jones (Round 6), wide receiver Richie James (Round 7), wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (ndrafted), running back Matt Breida (undrafted) and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (undrafted).
Some of these players, whether drafted by the Niners or another franchise, have been All-Pros, Pro Bowlers and, in at least one case, a Hall of Famer. Simply put, the 49ers would not have been a Super Bowl contender without these late-round/undrafted “hidden gems.”
With day three of the 2020 NFL Draft now on the table, it is time to look at the best of the these “hidden gems” selected by San Francisco in franchise history.