49ers NFL Draft: 10 high-profile picks who never panned out

Aldon Smith, #7 overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers, (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Aldon Smith, #7 overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers, (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) /
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Solomon Thomas, NFL Draft, SF 49ers
Solomon Thomas of Stanford with Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked by the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The 49ers have had a lot of hits in the NFL Draft, but these 10 high-profile names just never managed to work out after being selected.

Like any team, the San Francisco 49ers have had their share of good and bad selections over the years in the NFL Draft.

There were some seriously bad gaffes, such as the 2012 first-round grab of wide receiver A.J. Jenkins out of Illinois, who was inactive for almost all of his rookie season and ended up being targeted just once during his Niners career, a pass he dropped.

Other other-worldly mistakes, such as the 1997 first-round addition of quarterback Jim Druckenmiller, always wind up on the list of worst San Francisco draft picks of all time.

While a number of players on this list here would fall on similar lists, let’s revise the criteria a bit and skew it towards 49ers high-profile draftees, who for whatever the reasons, simply didn’t cut it at the NFL level or meet desired expectations. The “bust” label could be applied to some of them, yes.

But rather let this be a reminder even the best prospective players at the college level don’t always wind up providing dividends within the pros.

Starting off with one player fresh on Niners fans’ memories.

Cardinal . Solomon Thomas. 10. player. 871. . Defensive End

49ers Defensive End Solomon Thomas, Stanford

Selected No. 3 Overall in the 2017 NFL Draft

The first pick of the head coach Kyle Shanahan/general manager John Lynch era could have been quarterback Patrick Mahomes or quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Instead, San Francisco went with the “safe” pick, grabbing Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas at No. 3 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft after moving down one spot via a trade with the Chicago Bears.

At least one of those picks gained in return helped the 49ers land All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner a year later, so that was a win at least. Yet Thomas, who was intended to be a pass-rushing nightmare for a rebuilding Niners squad never came close to panning out and ended up being a mere rotational player as San Francisco continued to invest more in its defensive line with the likes of EDGE Nick Bosa two years later.

Thomas registered a mere six sacks over his four-year 49ers stint, and his tenure with the team came to an unceremonious close when he suffered a torn ACL in 2020 before departing in free agency to the Las Vegas Raiders the following year.