First-round flameouts?

Figure this: On Sunday night, under the bright lights at Soldier Field, only one of San Francisco's past 10 first-round draft picks will be in the starting lineup. And he'll be playing for the Chicago Bears.

As difficult as it might be to fathom, R.W. McQuarters is the only player San Francisco has drafted in the first round during the past decade that will start in the nationally-televised Sunday night game. McQuarters – San Francisco's top choice in 1998 – will start at left cornerback for the Bears. He was traded by the Niners to Chicago in 2000 for a conditional draft pick.

Neither of the six first-round draft picks from that period that still are on the San Francisco roster will start in Sunday's game.

Four of them won't start because they are injured. But think about it: Of the 22 players the 49ers are scheduled to start on offense and defense against the Bears, only one of them is a homegrown first-round draft selection. That's 11th-year defensive tackle Bryant Young, San Francisco's first-round draft pick in 1994.

Here, SFI briefly goes down the list of San Francisco's first-round draft picks since Young and fullback William Floyd both were No. 1 picks by the Niners in 1994, and we also look at the reasons surrounding what will prevent each from joining Young in the starting lineup Sunday against the Bears.

1995: J.J. Stokes – Stokes started at least one game in each of his eight seasons with the Niners, but he fell well short of becoming the next Jerry Rice, which is what the Niners were hoping for when they traded four draft picks – including two No. 1s – to get him. His disappointing 49ers career finally ended in 2003 when he was released in a salary-cap cost-cutting move.

1997: Jim Druckenmiller – The 49ers traded their 1996 first-round pick in the deal to acquire Stokes. When they selected Druckenmiller in the first round a year later, they were hoping to find their quarterback of the future and the heir apparent to an aging Steve Young. Instead, Druckenmiller was a well-publicized bust. He played only two seasons for the team, starting one game as a rookie in place of an injured Young before he was shipped to Miami in 1999 for a conditional draft pick, which ultimately became a 2000 seventh-rounder that the Niners used to select long-snapper Brian Jennings.

1998: R.W. McQuarters – McQuarters displayed some potential as both a cornerback and kick returner in his two seasons with the Niners, starting 11 games at cornerback during that span. But he fell into disfavor with the coaching staff and was shipped to Chicago for a conditional draft pick, which ultimately became a 2001 sixth-rounder that the Niners used to select receiver Cedrick Wilson.

1999: Reggie McGrew: The defensive tackle from Florida proved to be an even bigger first-round flop than Druckenmiller, contributing virtually nothing in three seasons with the team before the 49ers finally gave up and released him without receiving anything in return.

2000: Julian Peterson: The All-Pro linebacker certainly has been every bit worth the No. 16 overall selection in the 2000 draft. The only reason he won't be in the starting lineup Sunday is because of the season-ending Achilles tendon tear he suffered during the Oct. 10 win over Arizona.

2000: Ahmed Plummer: The No. 24 overall pick in 2000, Plummerhas started since the first game of his rookie season and was on the edge of stardom in 2001 but has failed to attain it since. Still, he is a solid starting NFL cornerback who is a foundation in the San Francisco secondary. He will miss his first start of the season Sunday because of problems with a bulging disk in his neck.

2001: Andre Carter: The No. 7 overall pick in 2001, Carter slumped last year after establishing himself as one of the league's top young pass rushers with 12.5 sacks, 27 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles as an NFL sophomore in 2002. He started the opener this year before experiencing back problems that required surgery and will force him to miss his sixth consecutive game Sunday.

2002: Mike Rumph: After a shaky rookie season, Rumph began to establish himself last year and had a firm grip on the starting right cornerback position this season. But he suffered a groin injury in the first half of the season opener, which forced him to miss the next two games. Then, when he came back in Week 4 against St. Louis, he fractured his right forearm and was placed on injured reserve two weeks later.

2003: Kwame Harris: Last year's first-rounder has yet to firmly establish himself at left tackle, though the 49ers still see him as the future at that position. Harris started the season there this year but suffered knee and ankle injuries in Week 2 that kept him out the next two weeks. He is almost all the way back from those injuries, but the Niners say they will continue to start Kyle Kosier at left tackle this week until they feel Harris is completely ready to return to the starting lineup.

2004: Rashaun Woods: Start? This year's first-rounder might not even play against the Bears. He'll enter the game fifth on the depth chart at receiver, and that is where he has been most of the year since experiencing hamstring problems that forced him to miss weeks of training camp and slid him out of the team's immediate plans at the position.


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