What have the 49ers done with the No. 3 overall draft pick?

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Mark Lane
·3 min read
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The San Francisco 49ers made a deal with the Miami Dolphins to acquire the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Assuredly the NFC West club is going to use that pick on a quarterback. After all, aside from a rash of injuries, including those at the quarterback position, the Niners went from Super Bowl runner-up to last in the NFC West. With the success San Francisco generated in 2019, the winning under Kyle Shanahan should be a trend, not a fad.

Now that the 49ers have the No. 3 overall pick, here is a look back what they have done with the pick in their history.

1951 — QB Y.A. Tittle

(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Tittle actually played for the defunct Baltimore Colts from 1948-50. When the franchise folded, the players from that roster were allowed to enter the next year's NFL draft. San Francisco took the starting quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick, and immediately finished 7-4-1. Tittle was with the 49ers through the 1960 season, earning four Pro Bowls and an All-Pro in the process. San Francisco's only postseason trip was in 1957 when they lost to the Detroit Lions 31-27 in the conference playoff. Tittle was traded to the New York Giants in the 1961 offseason, and earned three more All-Pro selections and league MVP in 1963. Tittle was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

1957 — QB John Brodie

USA TODAY Sports

Brodie was taken while Tittle was still with San Francisco, and it was his success with the shotgun formation in 1960 that led to the organization fully committing to their first-round pick from '57. Brodie finally tasted postseason success toward the end of his career after the AFL-NFL merger. In 1970, he won league MVP and led the Niners to the NFC Championship Game under coach Dick Nolan. However, the Dallas Cowboys would stymy San Francisco in the 1970 and 1971 conference title games, and closed the door on the 49ers' postseason success with a loss in the 1972 NFC divisional playoffs. Brodie retired after the end of the 1973 season.

1967 — QB Steve Spurrier

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Spurrier could never supplant Brodie, the way that Brodie supplanted Tittle to catalyze his career. The former Florida Gator was a backup for most of his career, though his best season came in 1972 when he compiled a 6-2-1 record with the Niners as they won the NFC West. Strangely, Nolan went with Brodie over Spurrier in the playoff game with the Cowboys, even though Spurrier led San Francisco to a resounding victory on Thanksgiving, 31-10 in Dallas. Spurrier was 13-12-1 as a starter in San Francisco with a 33-48 touchdown to interception ratio. In 1976, Spurrier went back to Florida to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and compiled an 0-12 record in the process.

2017 — DE Solomon Thomas

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When a team takes an edge defender No. 3 overall, they expect him to be their war daddy, but Thomas never manifested as that type of player. In his rookie year, Thomas produced 3.0 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and 11 quarterback hits in 14 games, 12 of which he started. However, he tallied just 3.0 sacks, six tackles for loss, and 12 quarterback hits in his remaining 34 games, starting just 18 times. San Francisco declined his fifth-year option in 2020, and he ultimately signed with the Las Vegas Raiders.

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