Darrell Moody: 49ers 1981 draft the best
Scot McCloughan had success with the 49ers’ front office, and was recently hired by the Washington Redskins to be their general manager. I think it’s a great move if, and only if, owner Daniel Snyder can stay out of the day-to-day runnings of the franchise.
McCloughan said he wanted to build the Redskins through the draft. Until big free agency money came along, that’s the way NFL teams were built. Now, teams go for the quck fix in the “win now NFL.” Coaches aren’t given a whole lot of opportunity to build winning programs. Look at my beloved Raiders, they change coaches more than some people change socks.
With the talk about the draft, I decided to look at the 49ers’ past drafts, and Bleacher Report had a top-10 ranking on each of the 49ers’ draft dating back to the Dick Nolan era.
I think the 49ers’ top draft picks came in 1981. The 49ers went for defense, and got Ronnie Lott in the first round, Eric Wright in the second round and Carlton Williamson in the third.
Just like that, Bll Walsh had acquired three-quarters of his starting defensive backfield in one fell swoop. The Niners also got nose tackle Pete Kugler, who had a productive career. All told, this draft class played 47 season (11 players), made 14 Pro Bowls and there were seven all pros. Lott was top-notch, but Wright and Williams had some Pro Bowl appearances. John Harty, the Niners first second-round pick of that draft was a bust.
Still, this is when the 49ers started to get good defensively. Bleacher Report had this draft ranked sixth.
My second pick was Bleacher Report’s top pick, the 1986 draft. The team had already established itself, yet got defensive end Larry Roberts (2nd round), fullback Tom Rathman, wide receiver John Taylor and defensive back Tim McKyer (3rd round), defensive end Charles Haley, defensive tackle Kevin Fagan and tackle Steve Wallace (4th), and cornerback Don Griffin (6th).
The 13-player class played 85 seasons, made eight Pro Bowls and had two all-pros. Maybe in terms of depth it might have been the best, but not in talent and longevity. Roberts was average and really never played to the level of a scond-round pick,
Rathman, Fagan and Wallace were solid, and Taylor and Haley were top notch. Griffin was underrated, and the Niners let Haley get away, though he was a problem child. The Niners didn’t have a first-round pick, trading down for prospects and it was a move that paid off. This may have been the deepest draft thanks to Walsh’s wheeling and dealing.
The Bleacher Report had the 2007 draft which featured linebacker Patrick Willis, Joe Staley, Ray McDonald, Dashon Goldson and Tarrell Brown as the No. 2 in team history. Really?
Willis and Staley, , both first-round picks, are good. McDonald was recently cut by the Niners because of his off-field issues.
Goldson left for a worse team to make more money and Brown has been OK. Not a No. 2 pick in my book.