49ers draft list: Most significant #1 picks

After the considerable progress of his sophomore NFL season, and considering what he means to the franchise, Alex Smith soon could join the list of most significant No. 1 draft picks in 49ers history, if his status doesn't already merit that rank. Here, SFI reprises its annual series of 49ers draft lists leading up to the April 28-29 college lottery at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

1. WR Jerry Rice, 1985: The 49ers traded up to get him after winning Super Bowl XIX the season before, and he became the greatest receiver in history while extending the 49ers dynasty until the end of the 1990s. Never have the Niners gotten more value for their placement in the first round of the draft, where they were able to pluck Rice with the No. 16 overall pick.

2. DT Leo Nomellini, 1950: The very first draft choice in the team's NFL history, "The Lion" became a 10-time Pro Bowler who now resides in the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest 49ers ever.

3. DB Ronnie Lott, 1981: Perhaps the greatest safety ever to play the game, the nine-time Pro Bowler starred at three secondary positions for the 49ers on his way to the Hall of Fame.

4. HB Hugh McElhenny, 1952: The five-time Pro Bowler earned a place in the Hall of Fame after establishing himself as one of the greatest multiple threats of his era.

5. CB Jimmy Johnson, 1961: The five-time Pro Bowler was one of greatest cornerbacks of his era and also made it to the Hall of Fame. Is second to Lott among 49ers' career interception leaders, and was second on team in receiving in 1962 before locking in as a full-time corner.

6. QB John Brodie, 1957: 1970 NFL MVP led the 49ers to three consecutive NFC West championships and ranks second in team history with 31,548 passing yards.

7. QB Y.A. Tittle, 1951: Went to three Pro Bowls with the 49ers before completing a Hall of Fame career with the New York Giants.

8. RB Ken Willard, 1965: Four-time Pro Bowler led 49ers in rushing seven consecutive seasons and ranks third in team history with 5,930 yards and 45 touchdowns rushing.

9. DT Bryant Young, 1994: Four-time All-Pro still going strong with team after 12 seasons as one of greatest defensive tackles of his era.

10. DE Cedrick Hardman, 1970: Two-time Pro Bowler is team's all-time leader with 112.5 quarterback sacks.

11. C Forrest Blue, 1968: Made it to Pro Bowl in four consecutive seasons, starting for the NFC in three of them.

12. DT Dana Stubblefield, 1993: Three-time Pro Bowler was NFL defensive player of the year in 1997 and had a second effective stint with team in the twilight of his career.

OTHERS CONSIDERED: WR Gene Washington, 1969; LB Julian Peterson, 2000; DT Charlie Krueger 1958; HB-DB-KR Kermit Alexander, 1963


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