The San Francisco 49ers emerged as a contender in the NFC during the 2011 NFL season as a result of their personnel - both coaches and players. The 49ers had one of the league's best defensive units and had an offense that controlled the ball and did just enough to win games. While new GM Trent Baalke did a lot of work to sign players to help the 49ers, many of the key players were brought in via the NFL Draft.
With the 2012 NFL Draft just ten days away on April 26, I thought it might be nice to look back see some of the best players the 49ers have drafted since 2000. So, without further ado, here are the best 49ers' draft picks since the 2000 NFL Draft (in chronological order):
Julian Peterson (2000)
Peterson was one of my favorite players with the 49ers in the early 2000s. He was a quick, athletic linebacker who could do it all. In his career with the 49ers (2000-2005) he recorded 394 tackles, 21.5 sacks, and five interceptions in 79 games - all while being elected to two Pro Bowls.
Ahmed Plummer (2000)
Plummer was a promising cornerback who was drafted by the 49ers in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft. If it hadn't been for his neck, shoulder, and ankle injuries, Plummer could have quickly ascended the NFL ranks as an elite corner. During his career with the 49ers (2000-2006) he recorded 241 tackles, 49 passes defensed, 12 interceptions and one touchdown in 70 games.
Andre Carter (2001)
Carter was a great defensive lineman in college who converted to an outside linebacker with the 49ers due to their 3-4 defensive scheme later in 2005 under Mike Nolan. Prior to that however, Carter was a very effective defensive end with the 49ers that accumulated 154 tackles, 32 sacks, 14 passes defense, and seven forced fumbles in 69 games.
Andy Lee (2004)
While it may be hard to say a punter is a great draft pick, I know I can say that about Andy Lee. He is a Pro Bowl punter who will probably make his was into the Hall of Fame one day for his ridiculous skills. He was a large part of the 49ers' success in 2011 with his uncanny ability to pin opposing teams deep in their own territory, thus allowing the 49ers to win the field position battle.
Frank Gore (2005)
Coming off of two knee surgeries in college, no one wanted to take a chance on this running back from the University of Miami. He fell to the third round where the 49ers picked him up and now six years, three Pro Bowls, and 7,625 yards later he is the driving force behind the 49ers' offense.
Vernon Davis (2006)
Davis came out of Maryland and began with his selfish attitude the minute he stepped into the NFL. After a strict encounter with Mike Singletary where Davis was thrown out of a game by his own coach, Davis was a changed man. He is still athletic, fast, and talented, but now, he plays for his teammates and has been critical to the 49ers' offense since he was drafted.
Patrick Willis (2007)
Willis is the center of the 49ers' defense and will be for years to come. His presence at middle linebacker rivals that of Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens. In his five years with the 49ers he has been a Pro Bowl nominee each year, he is a four-time first-team All-Pro selection, and was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2007. Willis is the most athletic, fast, and versatile linebacker I've seen play in a long time.
Honorable Mentions: Jeff Ulbrich (2000), Dashon Goldson (2007), and Aldon Smith (2011)
David is co-founder of wrapupp sports blog where fresh content is posted daily and present sports blogs and sports opinions - all with a West Coast bias. Growing up in the Bay Area, David is a huge supporter of all the local sports teams; the Giants, Athletics, Warriors, Sharks, 49ers, and Raiders. His one fault, admittedly, as many of his friends and family would say, is his love for the Los Angeles Lakers. Growing up, Magic Johnson was his favorite basketball player and he fell in love with the team. He chalks it up to, "Not knowing any better". Now his love for sports has turned just as academic as it is intuitive and he follows most all sports all over the nation.
You can follow David on Twitter: @officialwrapupp
Pro Football Reference. 49ers' Franchise History and Player Profiles. NFL 2012.
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