Good post. To the bolded: Correct. They were the beneficiaries of whatever turmoil was going on with the Kraft/Brady thing and BB decided to let go of JG. If that turmoil wasn't there, would JG be sitting in SF and how would Lynch be viewed. Ballard had Luck retire. Both what if scenarios. Both alternative universes. It makes a direct comparison difficult. Other than we can say that a GM has an advantage when his franchise QB is on the roster via giftwrap.
But, what we can learn from SF is what they did with those picks when they had them, and are those high pick players the ones making the contributions, or, are they only average contributors and is SF relying upon the lucky 4th round hit that elevated himself. Those picks contribute to the record, so its important not to ignore them and just assume that we'll be in the same situation in 2 more years if we keep doing things the same way we've done them.