The San Francisco 49ers are one of the longest-active and most historic teams currently playing in the NFL.

Over the years San Francisco has won many games and championships by consistently drafting superstar players.

This article looks back at the13 all-time best draft picks in San Francisco’s history.


1950: 1.11.11: Leo Nomellini
Leo Nomellini played for the San Francisco 49ers for 14 seasons from 1950-1963.

In that time Nomellini was credited with 13 fumble recoveries while receiving Pro Bowl honors 10 times, and received AP First-Team All-Pro honors six times.

Nomellini’s No. 73 is retired by San Francisco and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969.

1952: 3.7.32, Bob St. Clair
Bob St. Clair played in 11 seasons for the San Francisco 49ers from 1953-1963, and in that time received credit for seven fumble recoveries and received Pro Bowl honors five times.

St. Clair’s #79 is retired by San Francisco and St. Clair was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

1952:1.9.9, Hugh McElhenny
Hugh McElhenny spent nine seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, rushing for 4,288 yards, 35 touchdowns, and recorded 2,666 receiving yards with 15 receiving touchdowns. While in San Francisco McElhenny received Pro Bowl honors five times and AP First-Team All-Pro honors twice.

In 1961 and 1962 McElhenny played for the Minnesota Vikings where he received Pro Bowl honors in 1961, and then finished his career playing for the New York Giants in 1963 and the Detroit Lions in 1964.

McElhenny’s No. 39 is retired by San Francisco and McElhenny was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970.

1961: 1.6.6, Jimmy Johnson
While Jimmy Johnson played on both sides of the ball early on in his career with San Francisco, Johnson made the biggest impact on the defensive side of the ball. In his 16 seasons with San Francisco, Johnson is credited with 47 interceptions with 615 return yards, with two being returned for a touchdown. He also recorded seven fumble recoveries.

During his career Johnson received Pro Bowl honors five times, and AP First-Team All-Pro honors four times.  Johnson’s No. 37 is retired by San Francisco and Johnson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

1964: Round 3, Pick 29, Dave Wilcox
David Wilcox played 11 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, and in that time he was credited with 14 interceptions being returned for 149 yards and one being returned for a touchdown, while also recovering 12 fumbles.

Wilcox received Pro Bowl honors seven times in his career, and received AP First-Team All-Pro honors twice. Wilcox was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

1979: 10.1.249, Dwight Clark
If Dwight Clark proved anything it is that how a player plays on the field is more important than when a player is drafted. Clark played nine seasons with San Francisco and in that time accumulated 506 receptions, 6,750 yards, and 48 touchdowns. Clark played well in the playoffs accumulating 787 receiving yards and three touchdowns, while being on two Super Bowl-winning teams.

Clark received Pro Bowl honors in 1981 and 1982, AP First-Team All-Pro honors in 1982, and his No. 87 has been retired by San Francisco.

1979: 3.26.82, Joe Montana
Despite not being drafted until the third round, Joe Montana turned out to be one of the best players to ever play in the NFL. Montana was a member of the San Francisco 49ers from 1979 through 1992. In that time during regular season play, Montana threw for 35,124 yards and 244 touchdowns while going 100-37 as a starter.

In the playoffs with San Francisco Montana posted a 14-5 record, passing for 4,758 yards and 39 touchdowns, while leading the team to four Super Bowl titles.

Montana racked up many awards and accolades while playing for San Francisco as well including, seven Pro Bowls, three AP First-Team All-Pro honors, three Super Bowl MVP awards, and two AP NFL MVP awards. Additionally, Montana won the following awards once, Comeback Player of the Year Award, the PFWA NFL MVP Award, NFL Newspaper Enterprise Association MVP, the Bert Bell Player of the Year Award and the AP Offensive Player of the Year Award. 

After his time in San Francisco, Montana spent two years in Kansas City, leading the Chiefs to the AFC Championship following the 1993 season, and led the Chiefs to the playoffs following the 1994 season. Additionally, Montana received Pro Bowl honors  for the 1993 season.

Montana had his No. 16 jersey retired by San Francisco and  was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.


1981: 1.8.8, Ronnie Lott
Ronnie Lott spent ten seasons in San Francisco, and during that time Lott was credited with 5.5 sacks, 51 interceptions returned for 643 yards (with five going for touchdowns), five forced fumbles, and five fumble recoveries.  

In his time with San Francisco, Lott was on four Super Bowl champion teams, made the Pro Bowl nine times, and received AP First-Team All-Pro honors five times. After his time in San Francisco Lott played two seasons for the Los Angeles Raiders, and two seasons for the New York Jets. During that time Lott received Pro Bowl honors and AP First-Team All-Pro honors once more.

Lott’s No. 42 is retried by the San Francisco 49ers and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.  

1985: 1.16.16 Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice is definitely a player that lived up to his status as a first round draft pick. Rice played 16 seasons in San Francisco while amassing 1,281 receptions, 19,247 receiving yards, and 176 touchdowns. Rice’s greatness lived on in the playoffs, as he accumulated 1,811 yards, and 19 touchdowns while helping San Francisco win three Super Bowl titles.

During his time in San Francisco Rice received Pro Bowl honors 12 times, received AP First-Team All-Pro honors 10 times, received the AP Offensive Player of the Year Award in 1987 and 1993 and was the MVP of the 1988 Super Bowl among other accomplishments.

Rice spent his last four seasons playing for the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks, and was a part of the Oakland team that lost Super Bowl 37 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Rice’s No. 80 is retired by San Francisco and Rice was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.  

1996: 3.28.89, Terrell Owens
Say what you want about Terrell Owens but at the end of the day, Owens is a talented athlete.  In his eight seasons with San Francisco, Owens accumulated 592 receptions, 8,572 receiving yards,  and 81 touchdowns. Additionally while in San Francisco, Owens received Pro Bowl honors four times, and received AP First-Team All-Pro honors three times.

After leaving San Francisco, Owens spent two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, accumulating 1,963 receiving yards, and 20 touchdowns, while being named to his fifth Pro Bowl and being named an AP First-Team All-Pro for the fourth time.

After leaving Philadelphia, Owens played three seasons for the Dallas Cowboys, accumulating 3,587 yards, and 38 touchdowns, while in 2007 being named to his sixth Pro Bowl and being name an AP First-Team All-Pro for the fifth time.

After leaving Philadelphia Owens has played a season for the Buffalo Bills and a season for the Cincinnati Bengals, combining for 1,812 yards and 14 touchdowns.

In 2012, Owens played eight games for the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League, pretty much bringing his NFL career and his chance to win a Super Bowl to an end.

2004: 6.23.188: Andy Lee
In eight seasons in the league, Andy Lee has not missed a regular season game, and has four seasons where he has punted for more than 4,000 yards, while having three seasons in which he had 30 or more punts inside the 20 yard ine. In total, Lee has 723 punts, 33,069 yards, 71 touchbacks, and 209 punts inside the 20 yard line.

Lee received Pro Bowl honors in 2007, 2009, and 2011 and has received AP First-Team All-Pro honors in 2007 and 2011.

2006: 1.6.6, Vernon Davis
Vernon Davis is developing into one of the better receivers in the league. In six seasons with San Francisco, Davis has accumulated 304 receptions, 3,803 yards, and 35 touchdowns. Additionally, in the 2011 playoffs, Davis was responsible for 292 yards and four touchdowns.

Davis received Pro Bowl honors in 2009.

2007: 1.11.11, Patrick Willis
Patrick Willis is another player that has made an impact in a short time with San Francisco. In five seasons with the team, Willis has accumulated 533 solo tackles, 159 assisted tackles, 17 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, five interceptions, and two interceptions returned for a touchdown.

In the 2011 post season, Willis was responsible for 16 solo tackles, a sack, and a fumble recovery.

Willis received AP Rookie of the Year honors in 2007, has been to the Pro Bowl in each of his five seasons in the league, and has received AP First-Team All-Pro honors four times.  

This is my list, let me know what you think, and be sure to follow me on Twitter, @daniel808514 to keep the discussion going.