Want to wait to draft a QB? Good luck

Good quarterbacks sure are hard to find. Even with a primo draft pick.

As the brilliant Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated notes in this blog post, there have been 46 quarterbacks selected in the first round of the NFL Draft over the past 20 years. Of those 46, there have been 10 – or 22 percent – who have played in more than one Pro Bowl and just one (Peyton Manning) has been a first-team All-Pro.

How hard is it to hit the mark, even from point-blank range? There have been nine quarterbacks selected with the No. 2 or No. 3 overall pick since 1993. That list includes: Rick Mirer, Heath Shuler, Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington and Vince Young. (As six-packs go, that’s Keystone Light territory).

With that history in mind – and given the questions surrounding the upper-crust quarterbacks in this year’s draft class (Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett etc.) – the 49ers’ course of action appears clear: Draft a quarterback after the first round and let the Great Harbaugh mold him into a star.

Recent history, however, suggests that could be testing the powers of Harbaugh’s Midas Touch.

In examining the quarterbacks drafted after the 44th pick since 2001 (the 49ers have the 13th pick in the second round — 45th overall), it’s clear that the path beyond the failure-filled first round is, not shockingly, littered with even more landmines.

Now, it’s worth noting that the jury is still out on many of the quarterbacks listed below. In addition, the strength of the 2011 quarterback class appears to be in the middle rounds.

So this isn’t to suggest Christian Ponder or Colin Kaepernick can’t be molded into this year’s Matt Schaub (third round, 90th overall, 2004). But it’s clear they could also be Kellen Clemens. Or Quincy Carter. Or Charlie Frye. Or …

2010
ROUND 2: Jimmy Clausen, Panthers (48th overall)
ROUND 3: Colt McCoy, Browns (85); Armanti Edwards, Panthers (89)
ROUND 4: Mike Kafka, Eagles (122)
ROUND 5: John Skelton, Cardinals (155); Jonathan Crompton, Chargers (168)
ROUND 6: Rusty Smith, Titans (176); Dan LeFevour, Bears (181); Joe Webb, Vikings (199); Tony Pike, Panthers (204)
ROUND 7: Levi Brown, Bills (209); Sean Canfield, Saints (239); Zac Robinson, Patriots (250)
Comment: It’s obviously much too soon to write off Clausen (or the others), but, at this point, McCoy appears to be the only likely gem.

2009
ROUND 4: Stephen McGee, Cowboys (101)
ROUND 5: Rhett Bomar, Giants (151); Nate Davis, 49ers (171)
ROUND 6: Tom Brandstater, Broncos (174); Mike Teel, Seahawks (178); Keith Null, Rams (196); Curtis Painter, Colts (201)
Comment: Nate Davis. Remember him?

2008
ROUND 2: Brian Brohm, Packers (56), Chad Henne, Dolphins (57)
ROUND 3: Kevin O’Connell, Patriots (94)
ROUND 5: John David Booty, Vikings (137); Dennis Dixon, Steelers (156); Josh Johnson, Buccaneers (160); Erik Ainge, Jets (162)
ROUND 6: Colt Brennan, Redskins (198); Andre Woodson, Giants (198)
ROUND 7: Matt Flynn, Packers (209); Alex Brink, Texans (223)
Comment: Henne has been a semi-serviceable starter … Johnson was Harbaugh’s quarterback for two seasons at the University of San Diego (trade?) … Flynn, filling in for an injured Aaron Rodgers, was impressive in his only career start against the Patriots this past season (trade?)

2007
ROUND 3: Trent Edwards, Bills (92)
ROUND 5: Jeff Rowe, Bengals (151); Troy Smith, Ravens (174)
ROUND 6: Jordan Palmer, Redskins (205)
ROUND 7: Tyler Thigpen, Vikings (217)
Comment: Edwards, 27, is already on the downside of his career … Smith, based on his 2010 body of work, appears to be backup material … Thigpen showed promise (18 TDs, 12 INTs) in 11 starts with the Chiefs in 2008.

2006
ROUND 2: Kellen Clemens, Jets (49); Tarvaris Jackson, Vikings (64)
ROUND 3: Charlie Whitehurst, Chargers (81); Brodie Croyle, Chiefs (85)
ROUND 5: Ingle Martin, Packers (148); Omar Jacobs, Steelers (164)
ROUND 6: Bruce Gradkowski, Buccaneers (194)
ROUND 7: D.J. Shockley, Falcons (223)
Comment: Clemens, Jackson, Whitehurst, Croyle and Gradkowski have all started NFL games, but none are guaranteed starting jobs in the future.

2005
ROUND 3: Charlie Frye, Browns (67); Andrew Walter, Raiders (69); David Greene, Seahawks (85)
ROUND 4: Kyle Orton, Bears (106); Stefan LeFors, Panthers (121)
ROUND 5: Dan Orlovsky, Lions (145); Adrian McPherson, Saints (152)
ROUND 6: Derek Anderson, Ravens (213)
ROUND 7: Matt Cassel, Patriots (230); Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rams (250)
Comment: Not a bad year for plucking late-round quarterbacks: Orton, Cassel and Fitzpatrick combined to throw 70 TDs and 31 INTs this past season.

2004
ROUND 3: Matt Schaub, Falcons (90)
ROUND 4: Luke McCown, Browns (106)
ROUND 5: Craig Krenzel, Bears (148)
ROUND 6: Andy Hall, Eagles (185); Josh Harris, Ravens (187); Jim Sorgi, Colts (193); Jeff Smoker, Rams (201); John Navarre, Cardinals (202).
ROUND 7: Cody Pickett, 49ers (217); Casey Bramlet, Bengals (218); Matt Mauck, Broncos (225); B.J. Symons, Texans (248);  Bradlee Van Pelt, Broncos (250)
Comment: Matt Schaub. He’s good.

2003
ROUND 3: Dave Ragone, Texans (88); Chris Simms, Buccaneers (97)
ROUND 4: Seneca Wallace, Seahawks (110)
ROUND 5: Brian St. Pierre, Steelers (163)
ROUND 6: Drew Henson, Texans (192); Brooks Bollinger, Jets (200); Kliff Kingsbury, Patriots (201)
ROUND 7: Gibran Hamdan, Redskins (232); Ken Dorsey, 49ers (241).
Comment: Nothing to see here.

2002
ROUND 3: Josh McCown, Cardinals (81)
ROUND 4: David Garrard, Jaguars (108); Rohan Davey, Patriots (117)
ROUND 5: Randy Fasani, Panthers (137); Kurt Kittner, Falcons (158); Brandon Doman, 49ers (163); Craig Nall, Packers (164)
ROUND 6: J.T. O’Sullivan, Saints (186)
ROUND 7: Seth Burford, Chargers (216); Jeff Kelly, Seahawks (232); Wes Pate, Ravens (236)
Comment: How’s this for a band name — David Garrard and 10 Other Guys.

2001
ROUND 2: Quincy Carter, Cowboys (53); Marques Tuiasosopo, Raiders (59)
ROUND 4: Chris Weinke, Panthers (106); Sage Rosenfels, Redskins (109); Jesse Palmer, Giants (125)
ROUND 5: Mike McMahon, Lions (149); A.J. Feeley, Eagles (155)
ROUND 6: Josh Booty, Seahawks (172); Josh Heupel, Dolphins (177).
Comment: 0-for-9, but Jesse Palmer was quite popular on The Bachelor.

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