While taking a look back at the best and worst picks by the San Francisco 49ers over the past five years, ESPN NFC West blogger Mike Sando pegged Colin Kaepernick as their best pick, while also tipping his cap to Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman. He then mentioned Chilo Rachal, Taylor Mays and Glen Coffee as poor picks by the Niners before settling on 2008 first-rounder Kentwan Balmer as their worst choice over the past five drafts. For Sando, the jury is still out on 2011 third-rounder Chris Culliver, though.
"Culliver was a success story until his anti-gay comments stirred controversy during Super Bowl week," wrote Sando. "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."
ESPN NFL Insider Bill Polian believes that kicker is the most pressing need for the Niners, who could address that position via the draft, where ESPN NFL Draft Insider Mel Kiper Jr. has Florida State's Dustin Hopkins as the top option:
"It may not be particularly flashy, but upgrading the kicker is probably a high priority for San Francisco."
Mel Kiper Jr.
"Wire to wire for Hopkins at the top of these rankings. He's accurate and can be a weapon on kickoffs."