Hindsight is 20/20, especially when revisiting an NFL draft. And we wouldn’t even be having this discussion if Matt Leinart didn’t decide to return for his senior season at USC. But remember when the Niners were deciding between Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers? I still don’t know if they chose the right QB but I do know this…they didn’t pick the best player at Number 1. Let’s look at who else they passed up in the draft.
Shawn Merriman (12th overall) –
One of the top 5 best defensive players in the NFL today, Merriman would have been a force alongside Julian Peterson (assuming we would have kept him), Derek Smith and Jeff Ulbrich. And have you seen Merriman play? This is the kind of guy an entire fan base can rally behind. When was the last time everyone in the stands kept their eye on a single 49er defender, waiting to see the knockout? Ronnie Lott. (If you said Nate Clements you were wrong. Take your $90 million and go home.)
Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones (6th overall) –
This would have solved the return man problems that have plagued the Niners for years as well as allowed them to cut Ahmed Plummer a full year earlier. And maybe, just maybe, Pacman Jones would have taken in the
Roscoe Parrish – (55th overall) –
Not a very good player but a really cool name. A lot cooler than Alex Smith.
Alex Smith – (71st overall) – Stanford – Tight End
Not a cool name and not really a good player, but not as bad as the original Alex Smith.
Frank Gore – (65th overall) –
Oh wait. We did draft Frank Gore. Nice pick guys.
Lofa Tatupu (45th overall) – USC – Linebacker
An undersized linebacker who hits like a freight train, has a name like a line of female bath products and a member of the National Champion USC Trojans? And this guy slips to 45th? This is like passing up on the new kid from
Tom Brady (133rd overall) –
Ok, this one isn’t entirely fair cause Brady was drafted in the 2000 draft but the Niners did in fact take another QB that year; Giovanni Carmazzi from Hofstra in the 3rd Round. Granted, Carmazzi was dating a Playboy playmate but so was Jim Drukenmiller and both are selling real estate right now with Heath Shuler while hob knobbing with the good ol’ boys. The fact that the Niners passed on Brady, a
Side note: Marc Bulger and Adalius Thomas were also selected in the 6th round of the 2000 draft.