The San Francisco 49ers have had a chance to pick up tremendously talented players from the University of California, and each time the 49ers have bypassed those players and taken another player instead who has not made anywhere near the impact that the players that the 49ers did not draft.
One came in 2005 when the 49ers instead of taking Aaron Rodgers took Alex Smith instead, that mistake continues to haunt the 49ers till this day.
Rodgers was by far the superior talent, as he was coached by Jeff Tedford who runs a pro-style offense. Smith had Urban Meyer while Utah, whose offensive philosophy is the spread.
Smith on the other hand was thrown to the wolves, has battled injuries, inconsistencies, and multiple offensive coordinators.
Besides Smith, the 49ers needed a wide receiver in the 2008 NFL Draft instead of going after another player for California the 49ers went after Kentwan Balmer with the 29th pick and Chilo Rachal with the 39th pick, Jackson was the 49th pick for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Rachal don't get me wrong was not a bad pick as he is a starter and made strides in his rookie year, but Balmer was bust.
He didn't make any kind of impact that the 49ers thought he would make after being drafted out of the University of North Carolina.
This offseason, Balmer was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for a 2011 sixth-round draft pick! In Balmer's time in San Francisco, he has contributed 19 tackles and a pass deflection.
Jackson, on the other hand, has contributed immensely for the Eagles. In his rookie year he caught 62 passes for 912 yards, two touchdowns, averaged 14.7 yards per catch, had also 17 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown. Returning wise he had 50 returns for 440 yards and a touchdown.
Sophomore year for Jackson was even better he had 63 catches, 1,167 yards, an average of 18.5 yards per catch, nine touchdowns, he had 11 carries for 137 yards, and a touchdown. Punt returns he had 29 for 441 yards, and two touchdowns.
Last year he tied a NFL record for touchdown plays of over 50 yards with eight.
The reason why Jackson fell to the 49th pick in the draft had nothing to do with his ability as a wide receiver as he showed at California he was tough.
He could make catches over the middle, had great hands, great speed, but the only thing that he lacked that the NFL didn't like was height as Jackson is only 6 foot, but he has made defenses pay for that ever since he was drafted.
In 2010, the 49ers had a chance of bringing in another California player and that was Jahvid Best. Instead of going after the best available player the 49ers drafted two players that filled a need for the 49ers and that was the offensive line.
Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati were selected with the 11th and 17th pick of the draft. The reality is the 49ers should have chosen just one and selected Best with the other.
It still meant that the 49ers could have drafted another offensive linemen later on in the draft and also draft Anthony Dixon.
Best instead was chosen by the Detroit Lions with the 30th pick of the NFL Draft. So, far what has Best done? He's been the best offensive rookie in the NFL!
Heading into today's game he led all rookies in carries, receptions, reception yards, total touchdowns with five, leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns, and is second in rushing yards.
The five touchdowns in Best's first two games has not happened in the NFL since somewhere in the 1920s.
As for the reason why teams stayed away from Best even though he arguably was a top 10 talent was because of his injury history.
In his freshman year while blocking he hurt his hip, in his sophomore year he dislocated his elbow, and in his junior year his season was cut short after a scary fall in which Best suffered a concussion.
Yet, as what has been shown with Best he can carry the ball out of the backfield and pick up big gains and he can catch the ball out of the backfield.
He'd have been the perfect complement to Frank Gore, but instead of upgrading the offensive line by drafting a rookie and then signing a free agent the 49ers took two offensive linemen in the first round.
Again, the 49ers had a chance of drafting a player out of California and decided to bypass the local product.
What will be interesting to see from the 49ers in the next couple of years is two wide receivers and a running back coming out if the 49ers will look at them and learn from their mistakes.
Keenan Allen is only a freshman but has tremendous speed and height. He's 6'3 and in the NFL tall receivers are like gold.
Marvin Jones is also 6'3 and a wide receiver but he's a junior he has one more year to shine for California.
More likely than not the 49ers won't look at Shane Vereen, but as the backup to Best California did not lose much when Vereen came into the game.
Like Best, Vereen can take it to the end zone from anywhere on the field, and he's a little bit better at running down hill and getting additional yards after contact.
It will remain to be seen what the 49ers do in the upcoming drafts, but one thing that should be on the minds of the 49ers is look at the local products because Rodgers, Jackson, and Best have made the 49ers look foolish by not drafting them.
Smith although it's hard to blame him for the struggles has not accomplished much since arriving in San Francisco.
Balmer again is gone, and Iupati and Davis have a long way to go before making the decision to take two offensive linemen in the first round as a good move.
There's truly no what if's in life, but it would have been interesting to see on the field for the 49ers; Rodgers at quarterback, Jackson at wide receiver, and Best at running back.
Best could have been the third down back the 49ers needed and any screen pass regardless if it was a throw to Jackson or Best could go for a touchdown.
A big time play maker is what the offense for the 49ers truly lacks; Jackson and Best would have fulfilled those roles nicely.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!