49ers 2012 NFL Draft: How it led to debacles years later
The inevitable traces of history mean the Niners’ 2012 NFL Draft class shaped what fans understand of San Francisco’s roster and situation entering 2022 a full decade later.
And in many ways, the 49ers of today are still directly influenced by what transpired 10 years ago.
Remember, entering 2012, the Jim Harbaugh-led Niners didn’t need a lot of draft help. Their roster was stacked, and there were arguably only a few holes up for grabs anyway. Yet the failures of the 2012 class should have convinced Trent Baalke to address the following year’s draft in 2013 much more carefully.
Instead, Baalke’s then-newfound tradition of grabbing injured prospects with the hopes of redshirting them in year one began, perhaps highlighted best by the selections of defensive end Tank Carradine (Round 2) and running back Marcus Lattimore (Round 4).
Again, the 2013 roster was about as stacked as that of the year before, but those cracks began to show in 2014 before the now-infamous mass exodus of players (and Harbaugh, too) in 2015.
San Francisco’s 2012 NFL Draft selections, at least a handful of them, should have fully come into their own by 2015, which would have been contract years for all but A.J. Jenkins, who could have been in play for a fifth-year option into 2016. While the 49ers of 2015, under one-and-done head coach Jim Tomsula, still probably wouldn’t have been very good that year anyway, they probably would have been a little better than the 5-11 group we ultimately saw.
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Potentially to the point where Tomsula, beloved by Niners ownership, might have been given another year at the helm, not head coach Chip Kelly, whose 2-14 finish in 2016 ultimately led San Francisco to head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch the following year.
Either way, the trickle-down effects of the 2012 NFL Draft ultimately led to where the 49ers are now.
And perhaps that’s the only reason why fans will want to recall an otherwise forgettable class from 10 years ago.
A not-so-happy anniversary, we’ll suppose.