- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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A look at the NFC West's best and worst from the past five NFL drafts, one team at a time.
Best choice: Colin Kaepernick, QB, 2011 second round. There were other strong candidates, for sure. Finding a franchise quarterback in the second round strikes me as more impressive than, say, finding an elite pass-rusher (Aldon Smith) early in the first. Let's not forget about NaVorro Bowman, either. Some might warn against anointing Kaepernick as a franchise quarterback following only 10 starts. That is a fair point, but not a compelling one after Kaepernick played a leading role in getting San Francisco to its first Super Bowl since the 1994 season. Kaepernick's numbers through 10 career starts are the best in the NFL over the past five seasons, at least. No quarterback since 2008 can match Kaepernick in yards per attempt (8.9) or Total QBR (81.2) through his first 10 starts (counting playoffs). That's a strong indication Kaepernick is here to stay.
Worst choice: Kentwan Balmer, DL, 2008 first round. Chilo Rachal and Taylor Mays were in the running as disappointing second-round choices, and who can forget Glen Coffee? Balmer's status as a first-rounder makes him a "stronger" candidate. Balmer lasted two seasons with the 49ers and never started a game for the team. The 49ers were so confident in Balmer's irrelevance that they traded him to the division-rival Seahawks. Balmer started 11 games for a rebuilding Seattle team in 2010. He spent eight days on Carolina's roster before signing with Washington. Balmer was out of the league in 2012 at age 25 after vanishing from Redskins camp without explanation.
Verdict pending: Chris Culliver, CB, 2011 third round. Culliver was a success story until his anti-gay comments stirred controversy during Super Bowl week. Culliver had a rough Super Bowl. He's a young player with some growing up to do. How will he respond to the unexpected negative turn his career has taken over the past month? I left out 2012 draft choices from this part of the discussion. All verdicts are pending in those cases.
Related: 2011 draft rewind.