A few weeks ago, we looked at and regraded the San Francisco 49ers’ 2009 NFL draft. The logic was sound enough; after five years, you have enough data to really tell if a player is a bust or not and whether or not his selection was justified.
However, while five years is plenty of time to get some perspective and separate the wheat from the chaff, it’s not always the end-all and be-all of evaluating a player. Take Alex Smith, for example. Five years after he was drafted, he was having trouble beating out Shaun Hill. Now, he’s a Pro Bowl quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs.
So, with still over two weeks to go before the 2014 NFL draft, let’s go back in time a full decade to re-look at the 49ers’ 2004 draft class.
A decade ago, the 49ers were in a very different place than they are today. The 2003 season was a season of turmoil. The first under Dennis Erickson, it saw the 49ers stumble to a 7-9 record after making the playoffs in the previous two seasons. The offseason saw an exodus of talent as well, including starting quarterback Jeff Garcia and talented if mercurial receiver Terrell Owens.
This left Erickson and general manager Terry Donahue with a difficult situation to work their way out of. They would need to nail the 2004 draft in order to avoid a massive collapse and talent exodus. Could they do it? Let’s go pick-by-pick and see how the 49ers’ brain trust tried to salvage a crumbling team a decade ago.