Second-day success

Since the NFL draft went to a two-day, seven-round format in 1994, no organization has been more successful on the second day of the league's annual college lottery than the 49ers. San Francisco's run of success in the later rounds began immediately with Lee Woodall, a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker who was plucked by the Niners in the sixth round in 1994, and it has continued steadily through the years with the team discovering perhaps a few more second-day draft gems a decade later.

The Niners would like to think 2004 fourth-rounders Isaac Sopoaga and Richard Seigler - both of whom were projected to go earlier in the draft - can follow in the tradition of the team's second-day finds. Punter Andy Lee (sixth round) and possibly even quarterback Cody Pickett (seventh round) also could eventually end up being those kind of picks.

In addition to Woodall, who obviously was overlooked coming out of tiny West Chester University, the Niners have found two other Pro Bowlers on draft Sunday since 1998, with possibly more to come in the near future.

The Niners grabbed Hofstra safety Lance Schulters in the fourth round in 1998, and he was starting in the Pro Bowl for San Francisco by the next season. Fred Beasley was a sixth-round selection that year, and he finally received his long overdue first Pro Bowl selection last season after years of being recognized as one of the NFL's elite fullbacks.

Terry Jackson, a fifth-round pick in 1999, has been San Francisco's top special teams player for years and has been on the verge of Pro Bowl status as the NFC's designated special teamer. The Niners also found Tai Streets in the sixth round that season, and he developed into a two-year starter at receiver before leaving the team via free agency this offseason.

San Francisco's spectacular 2000 draft was top heavy - the Niners selected five starters in the first three rounds - but the team also found quarterback Tim Rattay and long-snapper supreme Brian Jennings in the seventh round.

San Francisco has had its quarterback named to the Pro Bowl in 16 of the past 21 seasons, so it wouldn't be outrageously surprising if Rattay can someday develop into that kind of performer. And if youngster Ken Dorsey becomes the Niners' top QB instead of Rattay? Well, Dorsey was a seventh-round selection in 2003.

Jennings is the best in the business at his specialty position and, while there's no place on a Pro Bowl roster for long-snappers, his value to the Niners suggests that maybe there should be.

Another possible Pro Bowl candidate of the future - tight end Eric Johnson - was selected in the seventh round in 2001, when the Niners also used a sixth-round pick to take Cedrick Wilson, who is projected as a starting receiver for the team this season.

Starting guards Eric Heitmann and Kyle Kosier both were seventh-round picks in 2002 and, while neither may ever be headed for the Pro Bowl, both are playing at a level well above what was expected according to where they were selected in the draft.

The latest greatest second-day selection may turn out to be receiver Brandon Lloyd, who the Niners stole in the fourth round last year. The acrobatic Lloyd might very well already be the team's No. 1 receiver, and the man holding that distinction in San Francisco over the years often found his way into Pro Bowl appearances.


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