10 superstars 49ers could have drafted but unwisely didn’t

Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Mitchell Schwartz, Cleveland Browns
Mitchell Schwartz #72 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

49ers 2012 draft re-do

Actual pick: A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois – Rd 1, Pick 30

New Pick: Mitchell Schwartz, T, California – Rd 2, Pick 37 (Cleveland)

If the 2010 NFL Draft was a solid one for the 49ers, the 2012 draft, coming off a berth in the NFC Championship game in Jim Harbaugh’s first season in San Francisco, was putrid.

The Niners selected the following players, along with the games they played for San Francisco:

  • LaMichael James, RB, Oregon, Round 2 (15 games)
  • Joe Looney, OG, Wake Forest, Round 4 (19 games)
  • Darius Fleming, LB, Notre Dame, Round 5 (zero games)
  • Trent Robinson, DB, Michigan State, Round 6 (three games)
  • Jason Slowey, C, Western Oregon, Round 6 (zero games)
  • Cam Johnson, DE, Virginia, Round 7 (two games)

This list, of course, leaves off the worst of the bunch. First-round pick A.J. Jenkins, a wide receiver out of Illinois who played in three games, catching zero passes on one target before being traded to the Chiefs for Jonathan Baldwin, whom Kansas City had reached for in the first round of the 2011 draft.

The Niners were a few bad bounces away from the Super Bowl, and it was common knowledge they just needed a few tweaks to get back there in 2012 with wide receiver being a key weakness.

This draft did not help in any way.

The only other wideout the 49ers might have taken with the pick was South Carolina pass-catcher Alshon Jeffery, who was picked by the Bears with pick No. 45 overall. But while Jeffery got off to a good start in Chicago, he fell off a pretty steep cliff in 2016 when he was suspended for violating the substance abuse policy and ended up playing four more OK years in Philadelphia before ending his career in 2020.

Instead, the new pick is Cal offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who went to Cleveland seven picks after Jenkins.

Granted, the 49ers offensive line at this point was in good shape and was a key cog in getting the team to the Super Bowl that season. However, hindsight allows us to see that right tackle Anthony Davis would play this and one more full season before doing a retirement dance with the organization in 2015 and 2016, so the Niners having Schwartz on the roster might have helped both in the short and long terms.

Schwartz was a solid player for four seasons with the Browns before moving to Kansas City as a free agent in 2016. Since then, he’s been a second-team All-Pro three times and a first-team All-Pro in 2018.

Another move that might not have filled the immediate need for the Niners, but knowing what we know now, would have been a far better move than Jenkins in Round 1.