The Best Drafts in 49ers History

It was just five years ago that the 49ers struck it rich in the college lottery with a draft haul that produced seven starters and a Pro Bowl long-snapper who quickly helped the team return to prominence. That draft ranks among San Francisco's best ever, but it's far down the list of <i>SFI</i>'s 10 best drafts in 49ers history.

1. 1986: Considered one of the best drafts in NFL history, the Niners maneuvered for extra picks by trading down and came away with a bonanza of Charles Haley, John Taylor, Tom Rathman, Kevin Fagan, Don Griffin, Steve Wallace, Tim McKyer and Larry Roberts - all key starters in the team's future Super Bowl championship runs.

2. 1994: This great draft produced four immediate starters - future All-Pro defensive tackle Bryant Young, fullback William Floyd, linebacker Lee Woodall and kicker Doug Brien - and provided three other players that became key contributors in the team's surge to the Super Bowl championship that season and extended the team's dynasty until the end of the decade.

3. 1981: Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott and Pro Bowlers Carlton Williamson and Eric Wright immediately gave the Niners one of the NFL's top secondaries until the end of the decade. Lynn Thomas also contributed to that secondary, and John Harty and Pete Kugler each saw time as starters along the defensive line.

4. 1970: Produced a score of players who contributed heavily to the team's early-1970s heyday - Cedrick Hardman, Bruce Taylor, Vic Washington, Larry Schreiber John Isenbarger and Preston Riley.

5. 1984: This draft yielded two Pro Bowlers (Guy McIntyre and Michael Carter), three starters (Todd Shell, John Frank and Jeff Fuller) and versatile running back/returner Derrick Harmon.

6. 1983: The first and last choice of this draft - second-rounder Roger Craig and 11th-rounder Jesse Sapolu - became Pro Bowlers and pivotal starters in the team's dynasty, and No. 4 pick Tom Holmoe and No. 5 Riki Ellison also played major roles.

7. 1979: The groundwork for a dynasty was put in place here with third-rounder Joe Montana and 10th-rounder Dwight Clark.

8. 2000: This draft probably would rank higher if the 49ers hadn't sunk to their current depths over the past two years. The Niners scored an 11-player bonanza that was instrumental in rebuilding the franchise and turning a 4-12 team into a 12-4 contender in just two seasons. All 11 picks made the team, five became starters as rookies and seven eventually would see the starting lineup. All-Pro linebacker Julian Peterson led the way, and long-snapper Brian Jennings was the team's lone Pro Bowl player in 2005.

9. 1964: Hall of Famer Dave Wilcox, Dave Parks, George Mira, Howard Mudd and Ed Beard all joined the team in this draft.

10. 1961: - Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson was the top pick, and Bernie Casey, Bill Kilmer and Roland Lakes followed in later rounds.

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