An Old San Francisco 49ers Draft Scouting Report Shows How Badly They Wanted Bo Jackson

Bo Jackson prepares for a game with the Oakland Raiders.
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It should come as no surprise that back in 1985, the San Francisco 49ers were very interested in Bo Jackson. They were certainly not alone in their desire to draft the running back. On Monday morning, an old scouting report from one of the team’s lead scouts shows his report ahead of the 1986 draft and it’s safe to say the scout wanted the team to take the Auburn player in the first round.

However, by the time the 49ers had a selection, Jackson wasn’t available. The scout likely knew when he wrote up the report there was very little chance the running back was going to land up in San Francisco after the draft, but the report made it clear what a great player Jackson was anyway.

The report was posted on Twitter by an account actually tied to Cleveland Browns fans, “Bring Brownie Back.” The scouting report lists all kinds of measurables and grades that Jackson racked up from the 49ers scout, Tony Razzano. Among some that stand out was that he boasted a build that measured 6 foot 1 inch and weighed 222 pounds, but he was still able to run a 40-yard dash in 4 minutes 12 seconds. His body control, explosiveness, and strength were all rated at the top or near the top.

Bo Jackson gets set to bat for the Kansas City Royals
  Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images

It’s the scout’s comments alongside his ratings, however, that really make the report stand out. Razzano wrote Jackson had all the characteristics to be one of the best players to ever come out of college. The 49ers representative compared him to other great running backs Hershel Walker, pre-crime O.J. Simpson, and Jim Brown.

It was also apparently clear Jackson wanted to play for a contender. Razzano noted the Auburn player didn’t want to have a career similar to Simpson, who toiled for a mostly bad Buffalo Bills team over the course of his career.

The 49ers scout closed his report by dreaming about a backfield that would have included Jackson, Roger Craig, and Joe Montana. His note for that was simply “awesome.” Razzano also said the young running back received the highest grade he had ever given in 22 years of scouting, after having seen thousands of players.

A pairing of Jackson and the 49ers was not to be, however. San Francisco didn’t have a pick until the second round and Jackson was selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. True to his comments about wanting to play for a contender, he refused to sign with the Bucs and played baseball instead. He eventually played nine seasons for the Kansas City Royals, Chicago Whitesox, and California Angels.

In 1987, he signed with the Oakland Raiders and played four years in the NFL. His career was cut short while playing in his only playoff game. During one run in the 1990 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Jackson was tackled awkwardly and he suffered a hip injury. That injury became degenerative and he never played in the regular season again.