Historically, the 49ers have done well when selecting seventh in the NFL Draft. Barring a trade, April 28th will be the fifth time that the 49ers will make the seventh overall pick since 1950. And if the team’s good fortune continues with lucky No. 7, chances are another impact player will soon be added to the roster.
The No. 7 club includes tight ends Ted Kwalick (1969) and Ken MacAfee (1978), defensive tackle Bryant Young (1994) and defensive end Andre Carter (2001). The group made seven Pro Bowl appearances, totaled 121.5 sacks, 210 receptions, 26 touchdown catches and has one Super Bowl victory to its credit.
Only Young played his entire career for the 49ers. But each player made significant contributions to the team as well, just not as notable as the team’s first pick of 1994.
The first 49er taken seventh overall was Kwalick, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound tight end out of Penn State, who quickly became one of the franchise’s most productive tight ends.
Kwalick made three Pro Bowl appearances in his six-year career with the 49ers. He also established the franchise’s single-season record for touchdown catches by a tight end when he caught nine in 1972. Brent Jones equaled the record in 1994 and current tight end
In 1978, the 49ers chose another tight end with the seventh overall pick, this time it was Notre Dame’s three-time All-American, Ken MacAfee. The 1978 Walter Camp Award winner started every game in his first two seasons with the 49ers, catching 46 passes and three touchdowns.
But in Bill Walsh’s second year as 49ers head coach, MacAfee was asked to play guard on the offensive line. Instead of making the change, MacAfee left the team in favor of dental school. MacAfee’s rights were later traded to the Minnesota Vikings. He never played in another NFL game.
The 49ers fared much better choosing seventh overall the next time around, it happened to be another Notre Dame alum.
In 1994, the 49ers moved up eight spots in the first round, threw in two more picks and selected a dominant defensive tackle named Bryant Young. Young’s selection would soon pay dividends and eventually go down as one of the greatest draft-day trades in franchise history. He played all 14 of his professional seasons with the 49ers and made four Pro Bowl appearances. Young was an instrumental performer on the Super Bowl XXIX-winning 49ers team where he started all 16 games as a rookie. The second-team all-decade selection of the 1990s totaled 89.5 career sacks with the 49ers, ranking him third all-time in team history. In January, Young was hired to coach the defensive line at the University of Florida.
Exactly one decade ago was the last time the 49ers selected seventh. And just like with Young, it required a trade to get there.
The 49ers moved up two slots to take California defensive end Andre Carter in 2001 where he totaled 25.5 sacks in his first three seasons with the team. Carter left San Francisco as a free agent in 2006, but finished his 49ers career with 154 tackles, 32 sacks and 12 pass deflections in 69 games. Carter was released earlier in the offseason by the Washington Redskins. In 10 seasons, he has totaled 442 tackles and 66.0 sacks.
Though the 49ers have had success with the seventh overall pick, the same can’t always be said for teams choosing in that slot over the past decade.
Since Carter was taken in 2001, only three players chosen in the seventh slot have made it to the Pro Bowl: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (2007), Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams (2004) and Vikings left tackle Byrant McKinnie (2002).
Hoping to buck the recent trend of unlucky No. 7 selections, the 49ers will look to re-establish their successful ways when choosing seventh at the end of next week.