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Former NFL scout Ron Marciniak, who “discovered” Jerry Rice, passes away at 85

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The legendary Gil Brandt shared a story of how Marciniak discovered

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Super Bowl Press Conference Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Former NFL player and scout Ron Marciniak passed away at the age of 85. You’re probably wondering how this is related to the San Francisco 49ers. Former Dallas Cowboys vice present of player personnel for 28 years with the Dallas Cowboys shared a story on Twitter Monday on how Marciniak found the greatest wide receiver of all-time. Brandt said that Marciniak was the scout who caused the only draft room debate in his 30 years with the Cowboys.

Brandt said that Marciniak was the scout who caused the only draft room debate in his 30 years with the Cowboys. Here is the story on how Rice nearly became a Cowboy, from Brandt’s Twitter:

In the mid-80s, Ron loved this small-school receiver that we had our doubts about because of his slow speed. He ran something like a 4.6 40 and had the slowest short shuttle of all the receivers at the combine that year.

But Ron believed in him so much he had him run the 40 at least 6 times in hopes of getting a speed that would help build his case. He not only pounded the table for this receiver but literally got up on it and started shouting things at us like, “I’ve seen this guy nine times …”

He was so convincing that we were all set to take the player in the first round with the 17th overall pick. We so believed he would be wearing a Cowboys uniform that it didn’t even bother us when the 49ers jumped in front of us with a trade the night before the draft. There was no indication they had any interest in this receiver. Then on draft day, when Wisconsin’s Al Toon went to the Jets at 10 and the Bengals took Eddie Brown out of Miami at No. 13, we felt we were home free. We all started dancing on the table.

But the party didn’t last long. Bill Walsh believed in building his offense around receivers and one of his targets was our guy. We were shocked when the 49ers took him one pick ahead of us. All of us just sank into our chairs stunned. And that is the story of how Jerry Rice, the greatest receiver in NFL history, became a 49er ... and nearly a Cowboy.

Rest easy, indeed, Mr. Marciniak. That’s a great story and gives you an idea of how teams latch onto a player and have to scramble at the last minute once the player they were hoping to fall to them doesn’t. A world where Rice was a Cowboy isn’t a world I want to be a part of.