Best and worst of 49ers draft picks since 2000

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Best and worst of 49ers draft picks since 2000

A year ago, you might have found quarterback Alex Smith's name on a list of the 49ers' worst draft picks. But, of course, things have changed in one season.And things might change again a year from now on the best list.Any conversation of the 49ers' recent draft success should include mentions of outside linebacker Aldon Smith and inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman. But both of those players have enjoyed just one season of success. To get on this list, players must sustain success over multiple seasons.And with that brief introduction, we present the best and worst 49ers draft picks since 2000...
Best draft picks
(Since 2000)1. LB Patrick Willis, 2007, first round
There was a large faction of 49ers fans who were calling for the team to fill a need and select defensive lineman Adam Carriker with the No. 11 pick. And there certainly was no consensus within the 49ers' draft room. Then-general manager Scot McCloughan determined that Carriker would be a solid player while Willis had a chance for super-stardom. He was correct. Willis is on a Hall-of-Fame pace with five Pro Bowl appearances in five NFL seasons. And if that's not enough, Willis has even made it into the Final Four of candidates to grace the cover of Madden '13.2. RB Frank Gore, 2005, third round
After the 49ers selected Gore with the No. 65 overall pick, Sports Illustrated called him the most overrated running back in the draft. Instead, Gore has been the most productive runner from the 2005 class. McCloughan took a chance on Gore, who sustained two torn ACLs at Miami, and Gore has responded with five 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He has never averaged less than 4.2 yards a carry during any of his seven seasons. With 7,625 rushing yards, Gore is the 49ers' all-time leader since the club joined the NFL in 1950.3. OL Eric Heitmann, 2002, seventh round
Terry Donahue's draft was otherwise forgettable, as cornerback Mike Rumph and linebacker Saleem Rasheed, the top two selections, never had much to offer. But in the seventh round the 49ers found a couple of good offensive linemen: Heitmann and Kyle Kosier. Heitmann had a solid career with the 49ers at guard and center before a neck injury cut his career short. But before his retirement, Heitmann was named as the winner of the Bobb McKittrick Award for three consecutive seasons (2006-2008).

Honorable mention: OLB Aldon Smith, first round 2011; TE Vernon Davis, first round, 2006; LB NaVorro Bowman, third round, 2010; NT Isaac Sopoaga, fourth round, 2004; S Dashon Goldson, fourth round, 2007; P Andy Lee, sixth round, 2004; LS Brian Jennings, seventh round, 2000.Worst draft picks
(Since 2000)

1. DL Kentwan Balmer, 2008, first round
The 49ers were looking to strengthen their defensive line, so McCloughan took Balmer, who had one good season at North Carolina, with the No. 29 overall pick. Balmer missed his flight to the Bay Area the next morning. And that pretty much sums up his forgettable tenure with the 49ers. In two seasons with the 49ers, he never started a game. When he saw himself slipping down the depth chart in training camp of 2010, Balmer quit and forced a trade. The Seattle Seahawks took him off the 49ers' hands for just a sixth-round draft pick. The Seahawks got rid of him after one season.2. WR Rashaun Woods, 2004, first round
The 49ers originally had the 16th pick that year, but Donahue traded back a couple of times and landed Woods with the No. 31 overall pick. Woods' arrival came after the 49ers parted ways with Terrell Owens. Woods was even issued No. 81. But Woods' true passion was fishing. He caught just seven passes for 160 yards as a rookie, and the following year the 49ers were quick to place him on injured reserve with a thumb injury. Then, he was traded to San Diego for cornerback, Sammy Davis, who played one season for the 49ers.3. S Taylor Mays, 2010, second round
Definitely a member of the all-hype team, Mays came to the 49ers with a big name after being promoted throughout his college career at USC as a future first-round draft pick. Mays was a workout warrior at the NFL scouting combine. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Mays definitely looked the part. Trent Baalke, who ran the draft, allowed coach Mike Singletary to make the call. Mays got his chance to play as a rookie when veteran safety Michael Lewis left the team. But Mays could not hold onto the starting job. After Singletary was fired, the 49ers traded Mays after just one season to the Cincinnati Bengals for a seventh-round pick in the 2013 draft.Dishonorable mention: OT Kwame Harris, first round, 2003; CB Mike Rumph, first round, 2002; G Chilo Rachal, second round, 2008; QB Giovanni Carmazzi, third round, 2000; LB Saleem Rasheed, third round, 2002; DE Andrew Williams, 2003; WR Derrick Hamilton, third round, 2004; WR Brandon Williams, third round, 2006.

Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

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Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

There is no shortage of blame to go around for the Atlanta Falcons’ collapse in Super Bowl 51.

The Falcons built a 28-3 lead in the middle of the third quarter and let it slip away, ultimately falling to the New England Patriots, 34-28, in overtime.

Matt Ryan voiced one previously undisclosed factor in the collapse this week in an interview with Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, pointing the finger at the new coach of the 49ers.

Kyle Shanahan has been the focus of a lot of the blame, but critique from the league MVP was a new one.

The Falcons quarterback faulted his former offensive coordinator for taking too much time to relay the play calls. Ryan said he did not have enough time to change any of the plays – presumably checking out of called pass plays to run the ball.

Here’s what Ryan told Prisco:

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in. As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

The 49ers can point to mismanagement of the clock for their own Super Bowl heartbreak. The 49ers’ offense had the perfect play call at the perfect time against the Baltimore Ravens late in Super Bowl XLVII.

But with the play clock striking :00, coach Jim Harbaugh was forced to call a timeout from the sideline. A split-second later, the ball was snapped and it appeared the quarterback run would have easily ended up with Colin Kaepernick in the end zone.

Much like after the 49ers’ loss, the Falcons left plenty of room for second-guessing.

Two of Shanahan’s plays calls, which directly led to the collapse, will forever be scrutinized.

The first came with 8:31 remaining in regulation and the Falcons holding a 28-12 lead. On third and 1 from the Atlanta 36, Shanahan did not remain conservative with an expected run play. He swung for the fence.

Receiver Aldrick Robinson, whom the 49ers added this offseason as a free-agent pickup, was breaking free past the Patriots secondary for what could have been a touchdown. But just as Ryan was unloading, New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower hit him and forced the fumble. Running back Devonta Freeman whiffed on blitz pickup, which would have provided Ryan with enough time to target Robinson deep.

Ryan’s explanation does not appear applicable on this play, though. In watching the replay, the Falcons broke the huddle with more than 25 seconds remaining on the play clock and the snap occurred with :15 to spare.

The other questionable sequence came after the Falcons – leading by eight points -- got to the New England 22-yard line with less than five minutes to play. The Falcons lost 1 yard on a run play on first down.

On second down, Ryan was sacked for a 12-yard loss. Before that play, the Falcons broke the huddle with :19 on the play clock. The snap occurred with :04 remaining. The game clock was running, so the Falcons had reason to attempt to burn as much clock as possible.

In the fourth quarter, the Falcons never seemed rushed to get off a play. The closest they came to delay-of-game penalties were when they snapped the ball with :04 on the one play and :03 another time. The majority of their snaps occurred with :10 or more seconds to spare.

If the Falcons were guilty of anything when it came to the play clock, it was that the offense did not waste more time. After New England pulled to within 28-9 late in the third quarter, the Falcons ran only six offensive plays while the game clock was running.

On those six plays, the Falcons snapped the ball with :13, :09, :14, :20, :13 and :04 remaining on the play clock. If they’d snapped the ball with one second remaining each time, they could have shortened the game by 1 minute, 7 seconds. The Patriots scored the game-tying touchdown with :57 remaining in regulation.

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Until now, Kyle Shanahan’s hiring by the San Fracisco 49ers looked great because of his two-and-a-half predecessors – the last days of Jim Harbaugh, the misplaced concept of Jim Tomsula and the couldn’t-make-chicken-marsala-out-of-old-Kleenex problems surrounding Chip Kelly.

But now, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has told us all that Shanahan has a gift we in the Bay Area know all too well. Specifically, that Shanahan took too long to call plays to the Super Bowl the Falcons vomited up to the New England Patriots.

Now who does that remind you of, over and over again?

Yes, some things are evergreen, and too many options in this overly technological age seems to be one of them. Data in is helpful, but command going out is what bells the cow. Ryan said Shanahan was, well, almost Harbaugh-tastic in his timing.

“Kyle’s play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in,” Ryan told Bleacher Report. “As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you’re talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, ‘There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.’ You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

“With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You’re not being aggressive not running it there.”

And the reason this matters is because the Atlanta Shanahan had multiple good options on every play. In San Francsco, at least in the short term, he’ll be dealing with minimal options. That could speed up his choices, as in “What the hell, we don’t have Julio Jones.” But it could also mean more delays, as in, “Okay, him . . . no, maybe not . . . no, he just screwed up that play last series . . . oh, damn it, time out!”

In short, it’s growing pains season here, children. On the field, on the sidelines, and maybe even in Kyle Shanahan’s head.