49ers NFL Draft history: Ranking 10 best late-round picks
By Peter Panacy
No. 1: 49ers EDGE Charles Haley
Round 4, No. 96 Overall in the 1986 NFL Draft
Well, when you’re a Hall of Famer, you probably deserve to be at or at least close to the top of this list.
Such is the case for EDGE Charles Haley, whose end of tenure with the Niners in 1992 was a massive turning point in the franchise’s dominant years, and Haley ultimately took his perennial Pro Bowl ways to the Cowboys who became the team of that decade.
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Still, Haley’s presence after emerging as a fourth-round NFL Draft pick out of a small school, James Madison, can’t be ignored.
Few NFL players had anywhere near the kind of pass-rushing prowess Haley had over his career. In 1990, during his first first-team All-Pro selection, Haley recorded a career-high 16 sacks. And during his initial six-year career with San Francisco, Haley missed out on double-digit sacks just twice.
Haley eventually returned to the 49ers to wrap up his career in 1998 and 1999, tacking on three more sacks between those two years and accumulating 66.5 during his Niners career — a mark that ranks second only behind defensive end Bryant Young for most in team history.
Any team would scramble for a player of Haley’s caliber in Round 1 today. Getting him in the fourth round was easily one of San Francisco’s best draft steals of all time.