Nearly all the 49ers draft picks from 2017 are gone now with only George Kittle and D.J. Jones remaining. Which no-longer-a-Niner player do you wish panned out?
With each passing year, the 2017 installment of the San Francisco 49ers draft class looks less and less of a success.
Of course, during general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan’s inaugural draft, the Niners managed to land an All-Pro tight end in George Kittle. And to a lesser extent, nose tackle D.J. Jones also provided a quality defender who’s still around. So, that year’s draft was prevented from being a complete flop.
Unfortunately, however, those are the only players left just over four years later after Lynch and Shanahan selected 10 prospects who comprised to make what many draft analysts thought was a home-run class.
Well, not exactly.
San Francisco is forever going to be haunted by the fact it took now-Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Solomon Thomas at No. 3 overall and passed on MVP-caliber quarterbacks like the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the Houston Texans‘ Deshaun Watson. As long as Mahomes reins as the best quarterback in the league right now, or at least until the 49ers identify a franchise-type signal-caller of their own, that won’t change.
While hindsight is always 20-20, and there is no shortage of “what ifs?” with regards to the 2017 49ers draft class, which player do you wish would have panned out for San Francisco over the long haul?
Which 2017 49ers draft player do you wish worked out better?
For recollection, the list of players the 49ers drafted back in 2017:
- Round 1, No. 3 Overall: DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford
- Round 1, No. 31 Overall: LB Reuben Foster, Alabama
- Round 3, No. 66 Overall: CB Ahkello Witherspoon, Colorado
- Round 3, No. 104 Overall: QB C.J. Beathard, Iowa
- Round 4, No. 121 Overall: RB Joe Williams, Utah
- Round 5, No. 146 Overall: TE George Kittle, Iowa
- Round 5, No. 177 Overall: WR Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
- Round 6, No. 198 Overall: DT D.J. Jones, Mississippi
- Round 6, No. 202 Overall: EDGE Pita Taumoepenu, Utah
- Round 7, No. 229 Overall: DB Adrian Colbert, Miami
It’d be easy to wish Thomas turned into one of those prolific pass-rushers early on or at any point thereafter. But considering he had just six sacks over his four-year tenure with the Niners, led by three his rookie season, there’s no way to get around the “bust” moniker.
True, San Francisco didn’t do him favors early on by playing him out of position on the edge instead of inside, but that doesn’t totally cover up the flameout.
Foster’s talents were overshadowed by his injuries and legal troubles, too, which resulted in him being off the team a little over a year after he was drafted. Beathard was drafted too high, Williams shouldn’t have been taken at all and Taumoepenu was merely a project.
Of all the players on the list who are no longer with the 49ers, Witherspoon easily had the most productive career with 33 starts over 47 games played, four interceptions and 24 passes defended. When he was on, he was on. The only problem was Witherspoon wasn’t anywhere close to being consistent enough.
As far as which players fans probably wish would have worked out for the better, though, it’s hard to decide between Taylor and Colbert.
Taylor’s injuries in 2018 and 2019 derailed what could have been a promising NFL career for a player many thought would be the next great slot receiver in the likes of Wes Welker. After all, Taylor led all of college football with 1,803 receiving yards his senior season, so it’s not hard to understand the hype and think back at him being a steal in Round 5.
But Colbert sure looked to be a steal late his rookie season, ascending the ranks to become a starting free safety and someone who was known for delivering big hits on opposing receivers.
For a seventh-round pick, Colbert’s immediate impact in year one sure created a lot of hope and hype that ultimately never carried over into 2018, eventually leading to him being off the team the following year in 2019 after failing to make the 53-man roster.
He was and is a fan favorite, though.
Anyway, the conclusion here is the 2017 49ers draft class fell well short of expectations, and one can only imagine how the rebuild would have gone if someone else, let’s say Mahomes or Watson, was drafted at No. 3 overall. Or if San Francisco passed on Foster and went with a running back like Dalvin Cook early in Round 2.
While there’s nothing to do about the past, it’s still an open-ended debate. Which former 49ers draftees from this class do you wish made a bigger impact with the team?
Chime in on the comments section and let us know.