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San Francisco 49ers' Best and Worst Draft Picks of the Last Decade

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San Francisco 49ers' Best and Worst Draft Picks of the Last Decade
Greg Trott/Getty Images
The 49ers continue to benefit from the production of their 2007 first-round draft pick Patrick Willis.

With the 2014 NFL draft just over three weeks away, the San Francisco 49ers find themselves in perfect position to cash in on one of the deepest draft classes in recent history.

The 49ers have stockpiled a total of 11 draft picks for this year's draft, per CBS Sports, and are poised to bolster a team already laden with talent.

In the forward-thinking mindset that teams and fans often focus upon, it would be wise to continue to evaluate the processes by which San Francisco will approach this and future drafts.  After all, that is how teams go from being bad to good, good to great, and so on.

But there is the old adage that one cannot know where someone is going until looking back upon where that person has been.  It applies to businesses, nations and yes, even sports teams.

In a way, 2014 is a watershed year for the 49ers, marking 10 years since the 49ers' worst season in franchise history—a 2-14 season under then-head coach Dennis Erickson, which is still the worst losing percentage in the storied team's archives.

Since that point, San Francisco has gone through a number of phases.  There have been rebuilds, cuts, firings, trades and drafts—all of which have affected the 49ers to a certain extent.

In some areas, those dark years in the recent decade gave rise to the current era of 49ers greatness.  When San Francisco struggled, they wound up having higher draft picks.  These, in turn, were often used on future stars such as All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis, who was selected with the 11th overall pick in 2007.

During that same span however, San Francisco made some very bad moves via the draft.  There were a few head scratchers and shakes along with players that never developed as hoped.

In this slideshow, we take a look back into recent 49ers history and determine and evaluate the four best and worst draft picks of the last decade, along with some honorable—or dishonorable—mentions.

To determine the specific criteria, we will evaluate each player in regards to where he was drafted, his expectations and how he developed and impacted the team.  Players drafted in the first round but who quickly turned into busts obviously rank high as worst overall picks.

Yet players who may have been drafted in later rounds, but excelled exponentially, deserve credit among the best.

It is a look back at history for the 49ers franchise, so let us take the time to recollect how San Francisco performed in years gone by as we look forward to the 2014 draft.

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