Drafting for defense: 49ers

October, 8, 2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

DraftRd.Overall49ers Pick
Pos.49ers Starter?Pro Bowls
2008129Kentwan BalmerDLNo0
2008375Reggie SmithCBNo0
2007111Patrick WillisLBYes1
2007397Ray McDonaldDLYes0
2006122Manny LawsonLBYes0
2004258Shawntae SpencerCBNo0
2003257Anthony AdamsDTNo0
2003389Andrew WilliamsDENo0
2002127Mike RumphCBNo0
2002369Saleem RasheedLBNo0

The premise: The 49ers' defense, like most in the NFC West, has struggled this season.

A closer look: The chart shows the last 10 defensive players San Francisco drafted in the first three rounds.

The facts: Patrick Willis and Ray McDonald are the only players among the 10 expected to start for the 49ers in Week 6. Lawson hasn't lost his starting spot, but he was having a hard time getting on the field even before a hamstring injury intervened. He is very good on special teams.

The future: Rookie first-round choice Kentwan Balmer is not making an immediate impact. The position he plays does not lend itself to getting noticed. Reggie Smith could get a longer look heading into next season. Willis might be the only star from this group.



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