Jerry Rice -- 1985 (No. 16)
It was something of a mystery when the 49ers traded with the Patriots to move up in the draft and take a relative unknown from Mississippi Valley State. But former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh saw something -- namely a late-night Rice highlight reel on a Houston television station. Still, who ever imagined Rice would go on to be arguably the greatest player the NFL has seen? His numbers speak volumes: He's the career leader in receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and overall TDs. Not bad for a player who wasn't even the first wideout taken in the 1985 NFL Draft -- Al Toon (Jets) and Eddie Brown (Bengals) went ahead of him. Nonetheless, Rice was one of the centerpieces of the Niners' dynasty of the 1980s and as sure a Hall of Famer as there ever was.
»1985 NFL Draft| Photos: Rice through the years
Joe Montana -- 1979 (No. 82)
Montana was undoubtedly the face of the 49ers' heyday in the 1980s. Yet coming out of Notre Dame, Montana wasn't exactly wowing the scouts. One report gave him a 6 1/2 out of 9 while most decried his lack of arm strength. But the skinny kid from western Pennsylvania just knew how to win ball games. He would go on to lead 34 fourth-quarter comebacks or game-winning drives in his career. The most notable might be the 12-play, 92-yard drive to beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII. By the time he was finished, Montana was a four-time Super Bowl champion (he won the game's MVP award three times) and two-time league MVP. He was selected to eight Pro Bowls and lays claim to maybe the most talked-about John Candy sighting of all time.
» 1979 NFL Draft | Photos: Montana through the years
Charles Haley -- 1986 (No. 96)
Once again, Bill Walsh found draft gold in an unlikely place. Haley was a four-year starter at James Madison and finished his career there as the school's leading tackler. It might have been that his lack of a true position made him an enigma and caused him to fall all the way to the fourth round. The Niners scooped him up and he made an immediate impact, registering 12.5 sacks in his rookie season. He was a key piece in the 49ers winning back-to-back Super Bowls before beginning an equally successful act with the Dallas Cowboys. Haley remains the only player in NFL history to play on five Super Bowl-winning teams.
Dave Wilcox -- 1964 (No. 29)
Dave Wilcox had a choice: Play for the perenially contending Houston Oilers in the fledgling American Football League or sign in the more established NFL to play with the perennial also-rans, the San Francisco 49ers. The Oregon native chose to stay on the West Coast and spent a productive 10-year career in the Bay Area. The Niners posted winning records just four times during Wilcox's tenure, though he could hardly be blamed. The linebacker was as durable as they came, missing just one game in his career. He was selected to seven Pro Bowls and was considered one of the league's fiercest tacklers.
» 1964 NFL Draft
Ronnie Lott -- 1981 (No. 8)
In the 1981 NFL Draft, the 49ers were intent on strengthening their defense. The team targeted defenders with its first five picks -- four of them were spent on defensive backs. While Eric Wright and Carlton Williamson had nice careers, Lott truly was the crown jewel at the top of the draft. He snagged seven interceptions playing the corner position as a rookie -- 17 in his first three seasons -- before making the move to safety in 1985. If Joe Montana was the face of San Francisco's offense in the 1980s, Lott was definitely the face of the defense. He is still considered one of the hardest hitters ever to play the position and sits sixth all-time in interceptions. And to think, he almost ended up as a running back at USC.
» 1981 NFL Draft | Photos: Lott through the years
Lance Alworth -- 1962 (No. 8)
How can selecting a Hall of Fame wide receiver be an awful pick? When you spend a top 10 pick on that receiver and he never plays one snap for your team. The 49ers did just that in 1962, only to have Alworth sign instead with the Oakland Raiders (who drafted him ninth overall in that year's AFL Draft). If it's any consolation, the Raiders didn't get any value out of Alworth either ... the team traded away his draft rights for three guys named Bo Roberson, Hunter Enis and Gene Selawski. So there's that.
Gio Carmazzi -- 2000 (No. 65)
The 2000 NFL Draft wasn't overflowing with quarterback talent -- Chad Pennington was the first QB taken that year. Still, it seemed like a reach for the 49ers to select Hofstra signal-caller Gio Carmazzi in the third round. Carmazzi never played a regular-season snap for the 49ers; by contrast, the team's seventh-round pick from that year, Tim Rattay, made 16 starts over six seasons in San Francisco. While hindsight has never had a need for corrective lenses, the pick looks even worse when you realize San Francisco passed on Bay Area native (and lifelong Niners fan) Tom Brady. Sigh.
» 2000 NFL Draft
Mike Rumph -- 2002 (No. 27)
The University of Miami dominated the 2002 NFL Draft. "The U" had 11 players selected overall, including five in the first round. That fifth player, Rumph, was expected to add depth to an inconsistent 49ers secondary. All he added was more inconsistency. Rumph's best year was 2003, when he pulled three picks and posted a pair of sacks. Concerned with his struggles in man-to-man coverage, the team moved him to safety the following year. Too bad they never found out if the move worked since injuries limited Rumph to just five games in the next two seasons. He was promptly traded to the Redskins where he played just seven more games in the NFL.
» 2002 NFL Draft
Rashaun Woods -- 2004 (No. 31)
By the end of the 2003 season, the 49ers were in full rebuilding mode. Garrison Hearst was headed to Denver, Jeff Garcia was on his way to Cleveland and Terrell Owens would fly the coop for Philadelphia. To ease the pain, San Francisco targeted Woods, a playmaking wideout from Oklahoma State. You can't miss with a player who caught seven touchdown passes in a single game, right? Seven would turn out to be Woods' magic number: It was the total number of balls he caught in four career NFL games with the Niners.
» 2004 NFL Draft
Israel Ifeanyi 1996 (No. 46)
After trading away Charles Haley at the end of the 1991 season, San Francisco struggled to find a consistent edge pass rusher. Head coach George Seifert tried to convince the masses that the team had found a diamond in the rough with the virtually unknown Ifeanyi out of USC. The masses weren't buying it. The masses were right. Ifeanyi played in just three games in 1996 and didn't record a single tackle or sack. Sometimes groupthink actually does work.
» 1996 NFL Draft