49ers draft list: The 10 worst yearly classes

Just five years after former general manager Terry Donahue whiffed on practically each of his 10 picks on draft weekend, San Francisco's draft class of 2002 officially enters the ignominious index of the 10 worst yearly draft classes in franchise history as SFI continues 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. 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. 2002: After the team finally cut ties with first-round pick Mike Rumph last summer, it was left with just one - just one! - of Donahue's selections in this weak draft class just five seasons after the fact. Rumph proved to be an injury-plagued cornerback who couldn't cover receivers and did nothing to help the team at that position of need. Third-round linebacker Saleem Rasheed never reached his potential, and Donahue wasted a fourth-rounder on a kicker, Jeff Chandler, who was cut midway through his second season with the team. The only decent picks in this class both came in the seventh round, where the 49ers found Eric Heitmann - now one of San Francisco's best offensive linemen - and Kyle Kosier, who was a versatile contributor along the offensive line before he left the team to join Dallas, where he's now a starter.


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