When 49ers passed on Hall of Famer with No. 13 pick in 1980 NFL Draft

Dalton Johnson

With the No. 13 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select ... Jerry Jeudy? CeeDee Lamb? Henry Ruggs III? 

When the 49ers traded star defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts this offseason, it became clear San Francisco could be falling in love with a stacked draft class full of big-time talent at receiver. Fans began clamoring for John Lynch to give Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo the No. 1 receiver this offense needs to reach the next level. 

But when the 49ers last owned the No. 13 overall pick in the draft, they did the exact opposite. In fact, they passed on a future Hall of Fame receiver and instead took a running back who never quite reached stardom. 

The 49ers opted for running back Earl Cooper out of Rice 40 years ago. Then only five picks later, Washington went with receiver Art Monk. The two had quite different careers. 

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Cooper actually made sense for coach Bill Walsh's West Coast offense. He had great hands out of the backfield and totaled 1,287 yards as a rookie -- 720 rushing and 567 receiving -- with nine total touchdowns. But that was the height of Cooper's career. He never had more rushing or receiving yards in a season. 

The 49ers turned Cooper into a tight end in 1985 with the emergence of Roger Craig. While he did win two Super Bowl rings with the 49ers, Cooper's career lasted only seven seasons where he had 1,152 rushing yards and six touchdowns plus 1,908 receiving yards and another 12 TDs. 

Monk, on the other hand, had five seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards for Washington. He finished his 16-year career with 12,721 receiving yards and 68 touchdowns. 

To put the cherry on top, Monk won three Super Bowls, was a three-time Pro Bowler and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.

[RELATED: Will Rice's three major receiving records ever be broken?]

There certainly is the chance that the 49ers look to address another need like cornerback, defensive lineman or offensive lineman with their top pick in the draft and decide to grab from this deep class and take a receiver with the No. 31 pick or trade back for a receiver. But if Jeudy, Lamb or Ruggs falls into their lap it would seem almost foolish to deprive Shanahan and Garoppolo of a shiny new toy. 

If history tells us anything -- at least 49ers history -- they can't let one of these possible star receivers out of their grasp.

When 49ers passed on Hall of Famer with No. 13 pick in 1980 NFL Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area