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May 2, 2014
Draft-savvy? 49ers stand out in league-wide analysis


General manager Trent Baalke has been taking some lumps lately. There's the failed 2012 draft that included first-round pick A.J. Jenkins, who was traded last year to Kansas City. Even Baalke's star-studded 2011 draft class doesn't look quite as bright today following the recent arrests of Aldon Smith (first round) and Chris Culliver (third round).

But take a step back and you'll find that the 49ers, thanks to Baalke and predecessor Scot McCloughan, lead the league in finding players, especially starters, in the draft or as undrafted free agents. According to an analysis by The Boston Globe, the 49ers and Texans have the most draft picks still on the team and that the 49ers have more starters and pro-bowl draftees than any other franchise.

The 49ers have done a particularly good job in the first round with seven of their picks in starting spots. Only the Patriots claim as many, according to the study. San Francisco, however, has only one starter from rounds 5-7 (Bruce Miller). The Seahawks lead the league with five starters from that part of the draft. (The Globe's numbers do not include the 2013 draft. Eric Reid would be the eighth first-round starter; Daniel Kilgore will be another 5-7-round draftee if, as expected, he starts at center this season).

I count 17 drafted players or undrafted free agents currently penciled in for starting spots in 2014 with free-agent pickup Glenn Dorsey getting the nod, in my mind at least, over Ian Williams. Of those 17, six were brought in when McCloughan was in charge of personnel decisions 2005-2009.

Projected defensive starters:
LDE Ray McDonald
LOLB Aldon Smith*
ILB NaVorro Bowman+
ILB Patrick Willis
CB Tramaine Brock
CB Chris Culliver
S Eric Reid

Projected offensive starters:
WR Michael Crabtree
RB Frank Gore
FB Bruce Miller
LT Joe Staley
LG Mike Iupati
C Daniel Kilgore
RG Alex Boone
RT Anthony Davis
TE Vernon Davis
QB Colin Kaepernick

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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