2024 NFL Draft

49ers must reverse their No. 31 pick history after two big misses

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The anticipation behind the 49ers’ impending No. 31 overall pick grows as Thursday’s 2024 NFL Draft nears.

San Francisco aims to reverse its history with the selection after both of the 49ers' previous No. 31 picks did not pan out.

In 2004, the 49ers selected Oklahoma State wide receiver Rashaun Woods with their first-ever No. 31 overall pick. In 2017, San Francisco took linebacker Reuben Foster out of Alabama with the other. Unfortunately for the 49ers, both players were out of the league soon after their respective drafts.

Woods was supposed to be Terrell Owens’ replacement. The rookie joined the 49ers as the three-time All-Pro exited, and Woods even dawned No. 81 during the 2004 NFL season.

The wideout-hungry San Francisco thought Woods was the answer, considering he shattered Big-12 records at Oklahoma State by recording 293 catches for 4,414 yards and 42 touchdowns during the 2000-03 seasons. But Woods, 6-foot-3 and 203 pounds, only totaled seven receptions for 160 yards and a score in his rookie season.

Woods ultimately dealt with some injuries before being traded to the then-San Diego Chargers in 2006, where his NFL career would end for good shortly after. 

Foster, contrarily, had a much more promising start to his San Francisco career. 

After posting 223 total tackles over four seasons with the Crimson Tide, Foster earned the second-most tackles on the 49ers' defense (72) as a rookie, leading the team with seven tackles for loss. He also was awarded a spot on the 2017 Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team. 

However, the 6-foot-1, 238-pound linebacker had too many off-the-field issues. San Francisco cut ties with Foster nearly halfway into the 2018 season after he was arrested for domestic violence -- his third arrest of the year.

Foster has yet to play down in the NFL since, and the 49ers happily replaced him through the draft with star linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw.

Now years removed from their No. 31 overall pick blunders, San Francisco has the opportunity to turn a page on its draft history. The 49ers, two months after losing Super Bowl LVIII to the Kansas City Chiefs, must nail their selections.

San Francisco will have many choices come Thursday. And as we all know, every pick counts -- just ask 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy.

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