Thanks to the success in the NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers are one of the most accomplished franchises in the NFL. The 49ers have drafted an extensive amount of players that have developed into Pro Bowl and Hall of Fame players. As a result of that, the 49ers have won five Super Bowl championships.
In this article, we take a look at the five best draft picks in 49ers history.
5. Frank Gore, RB
After having a standout career at the University of Miami, the 49ers selected Frank Gore in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. During his first season in the NFL, he emerged as one of the top running backs in the NFL. He finished off his tenure with the 49ers as the all-time leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in franchise history. In addition, he earned five Pro Bowl nods. As of right now, Gore has 15,347 rushing yards, good for the third-most of all time.
Several NFL analysts have said he doesn’t belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame; however, his résumé proves otherwise. Once Gore retires, he should certainly be selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
4. Ronnie Lott, S
Ronnie Lott is often considered to be the greatest safety of all time. Lott was drafted by the 49ers in the first round of the 1981 NFL Draft. During his career with the 49ers, he recorded 721 tackles, 51 interceptions, and 16 forced fumbles. Lott is currently the 49ers all-time leader in interceptions. In addition, he’s also the eighth all-time in career interceptions in NFL history.
3. Terrell Owens, WR
Following a standout career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the 49ers selected Terrell Owens in the 3rd round of the 1996 NFL draft. Owens finished off his career with 1,078 receptions for 15,934 receiving yards and 153 touchdowns. He currently stands third in all-time receiving yards and sixth in receptions. As a result of his astonishing statistics, Owens earned five All-Pro nods, five-time first-team All-Pro selections, and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s.
Despite his astonishing records and accolades, Owens was not a first-ballot Hall of Famer in his first year of eligibility. However, he was eventually inducted in his third year on the ballot.
2. Joe Montana, QB
Joe Montana played phenomenal in his 14 seasons with the 49ers. After winning a national championship at Notre Dame, the 49ers selected Montana in the 3rd round of the 1979 NFL Draft. Montana spent most of his rookie season as the backup, however, he eventually became the starter midway through his sophomore season.
From there on out, Montana established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Montana finished off his career with three All-Pro nods, two MVP Awards, and four Super Bowl rings.
After retiring in 1995, Montana was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
1. Jerry Rice, WR
Jerry Rice is arguably the greatest receiver in NFL history. In the 1985 NFL Draft, the 49ers traded their 28th pick to the New England Patriots for their 16th pick. With that pick, the 49ers selected Rice out of Mississippi Valley State University. The rest is history.
Rice went on to earn 10 first-team All-Pro nods, two Offensive Player of the Year awards, and a Super Bowl MVP. In addition, he was a member of the All-80’s and All-90’s teams.
Rice finished off his career with 22,895 receiving yards and 1,549 receptions. Those numbers are currently an NFL record and haven’t been close to being broken yet. Nevertheless, Rice will go down as the greatest player in 49ers history.