O.J. Simpson (1978-1979)
Forget all the legal issues surrounding Orenthal James (O.J.) Simpson for a moment. There isn’t any way to deny Simpson was one of the most dominant running backs in the NFL during his prime.
The problem was when Simpson was acquired by the 49ers, he was long past that prime.
San Francisco made a blockbuster trade with the Buffalo Bills in advance of the 1978 season, and Simpson was acquired for a total of five draft picks — including a first-round 1979 pick and two second-round picks in 1978 and 1980, respectively.
Deals like that wouldn’t even happen for the most elite of players today.
Simpson was already hitting the end of his career, and injuries spoke to what stat predictions likely knew.
During his Niner tenure, Simpson amassed a mere 1,053 yards and four touchdowns over two seasons.
Yeah, that was a bad investment. And given what was spent in exchange, this trade should rank as one of the worst in 49ers history.
Backups: Lawrence Phillips (1999), Dexter Carter (1990-1995, 1996)
Running back Lawrence Phillips was a first-round bust who allowed the hit that ended Steve Young’s career. Enough said.
Another first-round bust who never filled the void left by Roger Craig, running back Dexter Carter at least enjoyed success in the return game.
Next: Wide Receiver