What Experts Said after 49ers Drafted Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman

49ers.com went through our archives to find the best photos of seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis from the 2013 season.

Soon after the San Francisco 49ers make their first pick in next week's NFL Draft, league experts will start giving their analysis.

Not all of it will prove to be true.

Looking back on the 49ers selections of linebackers Joe Staley (the 11th overall pick in 2007) and NaVorro Bowman (91st overall in '10), few saw that they'd have racked up nine Pro Bowl and eight All-Pro honors entering the '14 campaign.

Let's look back at what was said in the minutes and hours after they became 49ers.

Willis in 2007

Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson:"Willis could be the next great middle linebacker in the NFL."

The Sacramento Bee’s Patrick Willis:"Willis has the combination of speed and instincts to make tackles three yards behind the line of scrimmage, not five yards beyond it, which was the 49ers' problem last season."

SFGate.com’s Kevin Lynch:"Willis isn't a pass rusher, he's more of a pure linebacker. The 49ers would likely have him play "in space" meaning they would like to position him behind a defensive lineman so he could run free and make a lot of tackles. He has great speed (4.38), reads offenses well and loves to tackle. The one red flag could be his his ability to shed blockers, which is in question."

Scout.com’s Craig Massei:"The 49ers couldn't have made a better selection. While the team has more pressing needs along the defensive line and at wide receiver, the top prospects at those positions already were off the board. The Niners could have taken a beefy defensive end such as Nebraska's Adam Carriker - who went two selections later to the St. Louis Rams at No. 13 - but why pass on a prospect with star potential merely to collect a good prospect who might better fill an immediate need? The 49ers went with star potential, and Willis comes to the team as a prospect with very few flaws."

Bowman in 2010

ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper Jr.:"Navorro Bowman has size questions, but he's better than No. 91 overall."

NFL.com:"The 49ers continue to add good players with the pick of Navorro Bowman. Although he fell down draft boards due to some off-field concerns, his outstanding talent and instincts give him a chance to emerge as an impact player in San Francisco under Mike Singletary's tutelage."

The San Jose Mercury News’ NaVorro Bowman):"The 6-1, 242-pounder impressed in college with his nose for the ball and his sideline-to-sideline range. Last year, Bowman had 93 tackles – including 17 for a loss — despite missing three games because of a groin injury. Bowman's stock dropped because of character concerns."

CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco: "This is a kid some had pegged as a first-round pick a year ago. He does have some off-field issues, but he is a good player. This is a solid pick by the 49ers."


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