So far, Niners haven’t gotten much from top of draft classes

Since the arrivals of Mike Nolan and Scot McCloughan in 2005, the 49ers have chosen eight players in the first or second rounds of the draft.

Since the arrivals of Mike Nolan and Scot McCloughan in 2005, the 49ers have chosen eight players in the first or second rounds of the draft.

 
So far, there has not been a lot of return on those investments.

Linebacker Patrick Willis, the No.11 overall pick in the 2007 draft, went to a Pro Bowl in his rookie season. Through five games, he has clearly been the 49ers’ best player.

Here is a progress report on the 49ers’ other seven high draft selections since 2005:

Quarterback Alex Smith, No.1 overall, 2005: Smith’s season came to an end when he was placed on injured reserve with a fractured throwing shoulder. He had season-ending surgery last year to repair a separated shoulder.

In 30 career starts, Smith has thrown 31 interceptions and 14 touchdowns. His career passer rating is 63.5. With a scheduled salary of $9.625 million for next season, Smith’s future with the 49ers is tenuous. If the 49ers decide they want him back, he’ll likely have to accept a minimum salary to return.

Smith’s injury is healing on its own. He is not expected to require surgery to insert a screw in his shoulder. He continues to go to meetings and stands on the sideline during 49ers home games.

Guard David Baas, No.33 overall, 2005: He has started just 13 of 49 career games. Baas has played primarily on special teams, while seeing spot duty at left tackle with starter Adam Snyder.

Baas was penciled in as the starter at right guard before sustaining a torn pectoral tendon in April that required surgery and several months of rehabilitation. By the time Baas returned to action, veteran Tony Wragge had replaced him in the starting lineup.

The only starts he’s made in his career to this point have been forced due to injuries.

Tight end Vernon Davis, No.6 overall, 2006: He caught 52 passes for 509 yards and four touchdowns last season, but has been a disappointment in Mike Martz’s offense. Davis has five catches in five games, leaving Nolan to talk about his blocking skills.

“He’s done an outstanding job blocking, both pass and run,” Nolan said. “So he’s two out of three already. In order to utilize your exceptional speed, it’s better with the ball in your hand. Otherwise you’re just running fast and it looks good.

“The objective is to get the ball in his hand. He has a responsibility to himself to run the correct routes. By no stretch would I say he’s a bust. He is good at two out of the three, and he’ll continue to get better at the third part, but that’s a matter of working at it.”

Linebacker Manny Lawson, No.22 overall, 2006: Lawson has played almost exclusively on first downs on defense. When the 49ers play extra defensive backs, Lawson comes out of the game. He ranks 17th on the team with seven tackles. Most of his contributions have come on special teams this season.

Lawson played just two games last season before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in practice. He is currently out of action with a hamstring strain. Nolan has promised to find ways to get Lawson more involved when he returns.

The 49ers originally envisioned Lawson as a pass-rusher. But he proved more adept as a rookie in coverage. He is still trying to find his niche.

Tackle Joe Staley, No.28 overall, 2007: Staley played every snap at right tackle as a rookie, and moved to left tackle to replace Jonas Jennings this season.

Staley shows plenty of promise to turn into a solid starter for a long time. He is protecting quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan’s blind side with mixed results, though. The 49ers lead the league in sacks allowed, and Staley has surrendered a team-high five sacks, according to STATS, LLC.

Defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer, No.29 overall, 2008: He gets on the field for about a dozen snaps a game, either at defensive end in a three-man line or defensive tackle when the 49ers play four linemen. He has yet to make a significant impact, though McCloughan said he feels reassured that Balmer will justify his first-round status. Balmer is a hard worker who just needs to gain experience.

Guard Chilo Rachal, No.39 overall, 2008: He was inactive for the first two games. Rachal has suited up for the past three games, but has yet to get into a game. Rachal is 22 years old, and probably would’ve remained in college for his senior season. But Rachal’s mom grew ill, and he had to make the jump to the pro ranks to help out financially.

Rachal had tremendous strength. The club believes he’ll become a very good lineman, and at some point could make the move to a tackle position.

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