Being drafted early by an NFL franchise is one of the most pressure-filled scenarios a quarterback can ever face. The weight of the team is on his shoulders, and if he doesn't resurrect the team as its star for roughly the next decade, he is labeled as a failure.
The San Francisco 49ers have used their fair share of high draft picks to select quarterbacks throughout their prestigious history. Some of them succeeded, but many others didn't.
With the 49ers recently acquiring the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, many fans and analysts expect them to select a new signal-caller. But how has that decision worked out for them in the past?
Past 49ers Quarterbacks | Earl Morrall (No. 2 Overall in 1956)
This selection dates back several decades. The 49ers drafted Morrall with the second overall pick in the 1956 NFL Draft; he played college football and baseball at Michigan State, and he could have played professional baseball. But he chased his football dreams instead.
Morrall spent fewer years with the 49ers than his draft number, though. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1957, and went on to play for the Detroit Lions, the New York Giants, the Baltimore Colts and the Miami Dolphins throughout his career.
Morrall retired from professional football in 1977. He was named the NFL MVP in 1968, and he also won three Super Bowls, but none of these accolades came during his time in San Francisco. Morrall spent time as a coach, and he unsuccessfully ran for the Florida House of Representatives in 1992 before his death in 2014.
Past 49ers Quarterbacks | Steve Spurrier (No. 3 Overall in 1967)
Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier was coming off one of the best quarterback careers in college football history when the 49ers selected him third overall in the 1967 NFL/AFL Draft.
His professional career wasn't as glorious, though, as he never rekindled the magic of his college days. After he sparingly played for the 49ers through the next decade and had a stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Spurrier retired in 1977.
His retirement as a player was a blessing, though, as it launched Spurrier's legendary coaching career. He briefly coached in the NFL, but he resigned from Washington after two poor seasons, proving how he was better suited to the college game.
Past 49ers Quarterbacks | Alex Smith (No. 1 Overall in 2005)
New 49ers coach Mike Nolan controversially took Alex Smith with the first pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. A standout college football quarterback for Urban Meyer at Utah, Smith was chosen ahead of future NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers.
For years, Smith was the man in San Francisco. He spent most of 2005-2012 as the team's starting quarterback, and he arguably performed well, though perhaps not well enough, in the role.
After Colin Kaepernick emerged and became the 49ers' new starter, Smith was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. He later made waves with the Washington Football Team after he made a miraculous comeback from a gruesome leg injury in 2018.
Smith remains the best quarterback the 49ers have selected with a high draft pick. It's important to note that iconic 49ers quarterback Joe Montana was drafted in the third round, so he was left off this list.
The 49ers and their fans will surely hope that the next quarterback the team picks high in the draft will be the best selection yet.