49ers assembled a golden roster via NFL Draft despite misses

A not-so-rough "draft" on how the 49ers assembled a top offense and defense in recent years despite some notable mistakes.
2021 NFL Draft
2021 NFL Draft / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

Despite some notable draft misses, the 49ers found the right formula in the NFL Draft to construct a golden roster from top to bottom on both sides of the ball.

Not every selection works out for a team in the NFL Draft. Often, a player does not work out for their team, and it's more frequent to watch a player flame out instead of turning into a quality addition.

However, some teams just have a knack for picking immediate contributors to their roster.

For instance, the San Francisco 49ers.

Currently, toward the end of the 2023 season, the Niners not only are tied with the best record in the league at 10-3, but they have also all but clinched a playoff berth, the first team in the NFL to do so this year.

The majority of their success on the field has come from drafting well. Back in 2017, tight end George Kittle was selected by San Francisco in the fifth round. A year later, grabbed in Round 3, linebacker Fred Warner became the 70th overall pick. Then, in 2019, the 49ers added defensive end Nick Bosa with the second overall pick.

All three of those are cornerstone pieces around whom teams would build rosters.

Then, 34 picks after the Bosa selection, the Niners took wide receiver Deebo Samuel. Despite only having five picks in the entire draft that year, San Francisco also snatched up linebacker Dre Greenlaw in the fifth round.

In 2020, a pair of first-rounders dawned the crimson and gold colors on draft day: defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk, while the 49ers got a late-round steal in fellow wideout Jauan Jennings. Kinlaw might have turned into a rotational player only, but many would argue that Aiyuk is now the Niners' best receiver all around.

In 2021, the gold supply ran a tad low after a trade to move up in the draft did not pan out, though. After a blockbuster trade to get to No. 3 overall, quarterback Trey Lance turned into a massive swing and a miss, and he was subsequently traded to the Dallas Cowboys for a mere fourth-round pick.

However, San Francisco's seventh-round grab of quarterback Brock Purdy in Round 7 of the 2022 draft made Lance's mistake much easier to absorb, and it highlights yet one more example of the 49ers' ability to find gold late in the draft.

Back to 2021, the Niners were able to add All-Pro safety Talanoa Hufanga in Round 5, a starting cornerback in Deommodore Lenoir in the same round and running back Elijah Mitchell in the sixth round, which further reinforces San Francisco's ability to draft outstanding talent in late rounds.

In this year's draft, the 49ers replaced kicker Robbie Gould with rookie Jake Moody. Then, by using draft picks as trade pieces, back-to-back in-season trades for running back Christian McCaffrey (2022) and defensive end Chase Young (2023) have solidified an intimating roster on both sides of the ball.

Salary cap issues and agreements upon contract extensions may impact and hinder the Niners' roster next season and beyond.

But for now, San Francisco has been able to draft a collection of professional football players that get massive team results.

Poised to go deep in the postseason this year and a potential return to the Super Bowl on the horizon, the 49ers appear to be in a bit of a "gold rush."

With every natural resource, though, they run out.

Thus, what crop will the Niners take in 2024?

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