PFF got it wrong listing Solomon Thomas worst 49ers draft pick

Solomon Thomas of Stanford with Commissioner of the National Football League Roger Goodell after being picked #3 overall by the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Solomon Thomas of Stanford with Commissioner of the National Football League Roger Goodell after being picked #3 overall by the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) /

The folks over at Pro Football Focus thought Solomon Thomas was the 49ers’ worst NFL Draft pick since 2006, but that’s a clear mistake.

Perhaps there’s some recency bias here, but Pro Football Focus might want to rethink some of the San Francisco 49ers‘ NFL Draft busts over the century.

In a recent breakdown of teams’ worst draft picks dating back to 2006, PFF felt the Niners’ top pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas, was the worst one the franchise had made during that timeframe.

Understandable. But incorrect.

Thomas should be considered a San Francisco bust. Top-five players in the draft should be cornerstone pieces for any franchise, either perennial Pro Bowlers or players who wind up starting key roles for a team over six-plus years.

PFF wrote:

"Thomas was drafted as an edge rusher despite never having played there at Stanford. While he dominated against the run for the Cardinal, he did so while penetrating as mostly a 3-technique. He looked like a fish out of water off the edge for the 49ers and never earned a pass-rushing grade higher than 58.3."

While it’s fair to suggest the 49ers did Thomas few favors by playing him out of position — on the outside for much of his four-year tenure instead of inside — it’ll be almost impossible for him to shake that “bust” moniker.

Thomas left the Niners for the Las Vegas Raiders in NFL free agency in 2021.

A.J. Jenkins, not Solomon Thomas, was 49ers’ worst NFL Draft pick since 2006

It’s possible PFF’s Michael Renner, who wrote the article, wasn’t quite in tune with some of the earlier gaffes San Francisco made during the NFL Draft during the 2000s. Defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer, selected No. 29 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft, flamed out after three seasons. He should have received some consideration.

But the clear-cut “winner” of that designation PFF dished out should have been none other than Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins.

Not Thomas.

Jenkins, selected at No. 30 in the 2021 NFL Draft, should have never been a first-round selection. Maybe a third-round experimental pick at best, but nothing more.

Instead, then-general manager Trent Baalke kicked off the 2012 49ers draft class with Jenkins, and that entire class has to go down as one of the worst in recent Niners history.

Thomas, meanwhile, at least finished out the full four years of his San Francisco tenure, seeing out his rookie contract. And while he never turned into the prolific pass-rusher for which the 49ers had hoped, at least Thomas ended up being a decent run-stopper and solid reserve rotational player.

Jenkins, meanwhile, played in just three games during his one-year Niners career, was targeted once and dropped that pass.

Read More: 10 high-profile 49ers draft picks who never panned out

And that’s it. San Francisco moved him via trade the following offseason.

It should be pretty simple. Thomas stayed for four years, whereas Jenkins’ career with the 49ers flamed out after just a single disappointing season. For longevity’s sake, Jenkins’ career never reached four years.

Thomas had him beat there, too.

Granted, this isn’t to say Thomas was a great pick who just never panned out. That selection at No. 3 overall still hurts, and one could argue it set the Niners back at least a few years.

Yet Jenkins was truly a non-impact player, and those fans who recall that pick won’t soon forget it.

Even though they’d like to.

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