49ers draft list: The 10 worst yearly classes

The drafts engineered by former 49ers GM Terry Donahue between 2002 and 2004 might already be the leanest three-year stretch of draft classes in the team's 61-year history. Amazingly, from the entire 27 players selected in those three drafts, only two have starting positions assured with the team in 2006. However, it's still too early to determine where each of those groups stand for posterity among the worst yearly draft classes in team lore. Here's the 10 worst that currently top that list.

1. 1977: With their first two picks traded away to New England in the Jim Plunkett deal, the Niners predictably got nothing out of this draft. Their first two selections were Elmo Boyd (third round) and Stan Black (fourth), and don't be surprised if you've never heard of them – neither lasted past their first season in the NFL. The obscure names continued throughout the draft and none of the eight players selected made a mark on the team or the NFL. As a player, that is. Eleventh-round pick Brian Billick, a tight end from Brigham Young who never played with the team, later found NFL success as a head coach.

2. 1954: Of the team's 30 selections, only ninth-rounder Ted Connolly ever made a significant contribution. But the team did select a collection of colorful names such as Charlie Boxhold, Bobby Fiveash and Leroy Fenstemaker. Too bad they couldn't make anybody remember their names on the field.

3. 1971: A terrible draft here when the 49ers were near the top of the NFL and could have used some good young talent to strengthen their platform. First-rounder Tim Anderson was a bust, and among the following 21 picks, only punter Jim McCann ever helped the team.

4. 1962: Second-rounder Ed Pine had two solid seasons as a starting linebacker, but first-rounder Lance Alworth never played for the Niners – he became a Hall of Fame star elsewhere – and the team got little or nothing from its other 22 picks.

5. 1973: The worst string of drafts in team history ended here with first-rounder Mike Holmes washing out and only second-rounder Willie Harper becoming a legitimate NFL starter. Whether the 2002-2004 stretch will be worse than the 1971-73 drafts still remains to be seen.

6 1958: First-rounder Charlie Krueger proved to be a great one, but the team didn't get much else from its other 30 picks. First-rounder Jim Pace, a halfback from the University of Pittsburgh, averaged 3.1 yards rushing on 52 carries and then never played for the team again.

7. 1992: First-round safety Dana Hall couldn't live up to being the next Ronnie Lott, second-rounder Amp Lee was a decent runner but couldn't break into the starting lineup and ... That's about it. Nobody else made any notable contribution to the team.

8. 1972: This draft proved to be almost as bad as the ones that preceded and followed it. First-rounder Terry Beasley didn't live up to the star potential he'd displayed in college, and defensive backs Ralph McGill (second round) and Windlan Hall (fourth round) never really distinguished themselves in their time as starters. Eighth-rounder Tom Wittum proved to be the star of the draft as he became the team's punter for five years and went to two Pro Bowls.

9. 1997: This three-player draft was doomed by the selection of Jim Druckenmiller in the first round, though Greg Clark did become a quality - but injury-plagued - starter at tight end. The other pick – second-round fullback Marc Edwards – had some moments as a starter with the team, but the feeble impact of this draft didn't last long and contributed significantly to the team's downfall to come.

10. 1995: J.J. Stokes had his moments with the team, but he never lived up to the star potential he possessed when the Niners paid a huge price to get him – two first-round picks, a third-rounder and a fourth-rounder. The team got little or nothing from the three players selected behind Stokes. The 2002 draft already is a strong contender to displace the 1995 draft on this list.


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