HIstory Lesson: Last Time the 49ers Drafted..

Every year around this time the atmosphere is ripe with optimism. Just as April showers bring May flowers, April drafts bring another batch of fresh-faced rookies bustling around in their first minicamp, eyes as big as pie tins, not really having any idea what they're doing but running a million miles per hour all the while.

Still, no matter how new and exciting everything seems for these guys – and for the fans eager to watch them in action – history shows us we've seen kids like them before, whether it's in the form of a player from the same school, playing the same position or even the picked in the same draft slot. Comparable guys in 49ers lore exist for all of these guys, and in a lot of cases, they'll be in the same locker room come August.

Let's take a trip back down memory lane…

1st Round Pick # 11, T Antony Davis, Rutgers

Last 11th pick: 2007, LB Patrick Willis, Ole Miss. Well, I'd say Davis is in good company here, wouldn't you? Interestingly, Willis, like Davis, was also the first of two first round picks that year, as the 49ers traded up for…

Last 1st round tackle: 2007, Joe Staley, Central Michigan (28th overall pick). Staley, like Willis, lived up to the hype immediately and was the starting right tackle on opening day, before moving to the left side the following season. Now Davis will be vying for that right tackle job.

Last Rutgers player 49ers drafted: None.

Last Rutgers player drafted in NFL: 2009, WR Tiquan Underwood, Jacksonville (7th round pick, 253rd overall). Underwood appeared in three games for the Jaguars last season, mainly as a kick returner. Tennessee drafted WR Kenny Britt 30th overall in the first round last season, and he had a solid debut with 42 receptions for 701 yards and three touchdowns. Davis' teammate, CB Devin McCourty went 27th overall to New England.

Prominent Rutgers alums: Colts LB Gary Brackett, Giants C Shaun O'Hara, Ravens RB Ray Rice. There are no Scarlet Knights in the Hall-of-Fame, but Brackett has been the centerpiece of Indianapolis' defense since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2003. O'Hara also had to scrap his way to become a Cleveland Brown in 2000 before becoming a two-time Pro Bowler with the Giants. Rice was Baltimore's 2nd round pick in 2008 and had over 2,000 yards from scrimmage last season, also earning a Pro Bowl nod.

1st Round Pick # 17 G Mike Iupati, Idaho

Last 17th pick: 1970, DB Bruce Taylor, Boston. Taylor played his entire eight-year career for the 49ers from 1970-1977 as a corner and punt returner. He started 86 of 109 games, made one Pro Bowl, and finished with 18 interceptions. Like Iupati, he too was the second of two first round choices, as the 49ers also drafted DE Cedrick Hardman out of North Texas State with the ninth overall pick.

Last 1st round guard: None. The earliest guard ever drafted by the Niners was David Baas, 33rd overall in 2005 out of Michigan. Iupati is going to be battling to take Baas' starting job. Meanwhile the most recent guard drafted was Chilo Rachal, 39th from USC in 2008, and he'll be starting on the right side, next to Davis.

Last Idaho player drafted: None

Last Idaho player in NFL: 2009, FB Eddie Williams, Washington (7th round pick, 221st overall). Williams, a San Mateo native who went to Aragon High School, was on the Redskins practice squad last year before being signed by Chicago in the offseason. Other local Idaho connections include Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable who was a linemen there from 1982-1986 and their coach from 2000-2003.

Prominent Idaho alums:Jerry Kramer was a five-time All-Pro guard and kicker with Green Bay from 1958-1968 an is the only member of the NFL's 50th Anniversary All-Time team not in the Hall of Fame. Guard Mark Schlereth won three Super Bowls during his 12-year career with Washington and Denver. Besides Iupati the only 1st-round pick in Idaho history is QB Ken Hobart, who was taken tenth overall by the New York Jets in 1984. He chose the Jacksonville Bulls of the USFL instead and was in the CFL soon after, where he won a Grey Cup with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1986.

2nd Round Pick #49 S Taylor Mays, USC

Last 49th pick: 1983, RB Roger Craig, Nebraska. Naturally the 49th pick has been good to the 49ers. Craig played the first eight of his brilliant 11-year career in San Francisco, set a team record with 12 touchdowns as a rookie, became the first player to find paydirt three times in a Super Bowl (XIX, 38-16 over Miami) and was also the first to have over a thousand yards rushing and receiving in the same season, in 1985. He 11,506 yards from scrimmage as a 49er and scored 66 touchdowns.

Last 2nd Round safety: None. Dana Hall, the 18th pick out of Washington in 1992, never amounted to much and only spent three years with the 49ers. They've had more luck with another Washington safety, Dashon Goldson (4th round, 126th overall in 2007) however. Of course the most famous USC safety is Ronnie Lott, but he was a corner when the Niners took him 8th overall in 1981. The last safety the team drafted, meanwhile, was Curtis Taylor (7th round, 219th overall) last season, and he'll be in the mix with Mays for a nickel job.

Last USC player drafted: 2009, S Kevin Ellison, San Diego (6th round, 189th overall). Despite being a low pick, Ellison, another USC safety, started nine games for the Chargers last year and had 52 tackles and a sack. The most recent Trojan for the 49ers was the aforementioned Rachal, in 2008.

Prominent USC alums:

Trojans Hall-of-Famers besides the incomparable Lott include OT Anthony Munoz (Cincinnati 1980-1992), RB Marcus Allen (Raiders 1982-1992, Chiefs 1993-1997), WR Lynn Swann (Pittsburgh 1974-1982), OL Bruce Matthews (Houston 1983-1996, Tennessee 1997-2001) and of course the notorious O.J. Simpson, who was a legend at Buffalo from 1969-1977 before playing his final two seasons with the Niners. Current USC stars include Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, and a pair of Mays' former teammates, linebackers Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews, who had terrific rookie seasons for the Texans and Packers, respectively.

3rd Round Pick #91 LB Navarro Bowman, Penn State

Last 91st pick: 1978, WR Terry LeCount, Florida (4th round). LeCount played in three games for the 49ers in 1978 and caught 10 passes for 131 yards but was shipped to Minnesota two weeks into his second season. He finished his eight-year career with 89 receptions for 1,354 yards and seven touchdowns.

Last 3rd Round linebacker: 2002, Saleem Rasheed, Alabama (69th overall). In four years as a reserve, from 2002-2005, Rasheed never got on the field much for the Niners, contributing just 40 tackles and a sack over 45 games. His NFL career was over after he was cut in the preseason by the Texans in 2006, but he won a Grey Cup with the Calgary Stampeders in 2008. Scott McKillop, drafted last year out of Pittsburgh (5th round, 146th overall), was the most recent linebacker picked by San Francisco before Bowman.

Last Penn State linebacker: 1987, Bob White (6th round, 162nd overall). White never made it out of camp for a stacked Niners team and got a cup of coffee with the Browns before quickly finding other pursuits involving his alma mater's athletic department. The most recent Nittany Lion to join the red and gold before Bowman was RB Michael Robinson (4th round pick, 100th overall in 2006), who played quarterback for Joe Paterno but been an ace special teamer for San Francisco.

Last Penn State player drafted: 2010 LB Sean Lee, Dallas (2nd round, 55th overall). Lee played alongside Bowman for three seasons and the two of them terrorized many a Big Ten backfield. The Cowboys will look to groom Lee to replace one of two aging inside ‘backers in Keith Brooking and Bradie James.

Prominent Penn State alums: A couple of Hall-of-Fame Steelers in LB Jack Ham (1971-1982) and RB Franco Harris (1972-1984), Oilers G Mike Munchak (1982-1993) and Baltimore Colts legend RB Lenny Moore (1956-1967). LB Matt Millen won a Super Bowl with the 49ers in 1989, while probably the best current pro is RB Larry Johnson, who's now a Redskin.

In next month's issue we'll go back into the vault and take a look at the historical connections of the four other draft picks.

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