In a word association game, if I were to mention "The 49ers", the vast majority of the population would automatically think of Jerry Rice - and rightfully so. Jerry Rice is the essense of the 49ers. His work ethic and dedication to the team, and the sport of football allowed him to reach heights no player had ever reached before in the history of the game. Rice has established himself as the premier receiver in the NFL, claiming first rights to every significant receiving record and setting them at heights that may remain unreached for eons.
Jerry Rice came to the 49ers after a very succesful collegiate career at a little school, Mississipi Valley State. There, Rice was the key figure in the offense, playing every position from quarterback to defensive back, - and oh yes receiver. He never would have went out for the team though, had his principle not ordered him to the team after Rice was caught skipping. The rest is, well history.
Bill Walsh scouted Rice's talent in and drafted the future hall of famer in 1985 and moved up to the tenth overall spot in the draft to make one of the most important selections in 49ers history. Rice was the perfect fit for Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense. His elusive moves, and incredible break away speed, gave Joe Montana and later Steve Young and Jeff Garcia the ultimate threat at wide receiver. Rice's career was hampered only in one season, 1997 when he suffered two potentially career ending knee injuries. Rice came back, and proved to the world that he truly is Super Human.
Want to have your opinion of Jerry Rice forever enshrined on 49ers Paradise? I am attempting to compile a page of fan's memories of Jerry Rice, please E-mail me your memories.
"The greatest to play the game of football." Born on October 13th 1962, Jerry Rice was raised in Crawford Mississippi where football, basketball, and track & field were his major pass times. Rice has since developed into the greatest receiver, if not player to ever play in the NFL. Originally drafted by the 49ers in 1985, Rice was selected in the first round of the draft.
With every game that Jerry Rice pays he extends another one of his countless records, truly leaving a mark on professional football. In 1997 he became the first receiver to catch 1000+ passes. At 6-2, 180 pounds Rice is the holder of every single important receiving record and three Super Bowl titles. At the end of his career he will have put such records as: most receptions, most yards, most total touchdowns, most receiving touchdowns, most games with 100+ receiving yards, most seasons with 100+ receptions, most seasons with 1000+ yards, most receiving yards in a single season, most seasons with 50+ receptions and consecutive games with a reception at such a high mark no receiver may ever reach them again. He boasts such trophies as NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP with more pride than any player, and is by far the most deserving. Rice has also teamed with former 49ers quarterback Steve Young for more touchdowns as a combination than any other two-person combination in history.
Rice's records are not only well deserved, but he worked all his life to attain them. Jerry always had an interest in sports. When he was in high school, he played football, basketball and ran track. However, in his first year of college elected not to play football, his mother didn't like the game. It wasn't until his principal caught him playing hooky that he started to play. After the principal startled Jerry, he took off, leaving the principal with just the sight of a blurry red blazer. The Principal was so amazed at Jerry's speed that he called him to his office the next morning game him 5-6 thrashings and then a mandate to play football.
The coaches loved him. In high school, he played WR, DB, HB, and QB. In one game he through for 3 and caught another 3 Td's in just the second half. Players in college gave Jerry the nick name "World" because he could catch anything in the world. It was at Mississippi Valley State, Rice's College where he was given his first of many MVP awards. In 1985 he was drafted #16 overall. After the 1st mini-camp, Dwight Clark (the 49ers primary receiver) came up to Bill Walsh, pointed at Jerry and said "What is that?" What it was, was history in the making, 6 years would follow of "Montana to Rice...TOUCHDOWN!!!"
Rice has a very strong presence, you feel you have to perform for him. Carmen Policy was quoted saying: "With free agents his presence is enough. He doesn't have to talk to them, if they just see him walk through the hallway it will register: This is the place where Jerry Rice lives." He was passed a "torch" form Clark and Solomon, one he will pass to other players such as Terrell Owens and Jeff Garcia. This "torch" is what keep the 49ers the 49ers, it is the winning spirit and dignity.
Is Jerry Rice the greatest to play, well Bill Walsh says: "I think if you name the 5 best players of all time, he'd be one of them, and then it would be up to people to pick their preference. But you couldn't find a better player than Jerry Rice." Many reporters explain that his eye hand coordination came from helping his father, a bricklayer, at work. His brothers used to toss bricks to him, that he would catch and then place them on the structure being built. If this had nothing to do with developing the greatest receiver if not player of all time, than at the very least it taught him what an honest days work was.
Jerry played in every game he was eligible for with the exception of one season. In 1997 Rice suffered two potentially career ending knee injuries. His ability to rehabilitate from them, and recover at a speed that was simply unheard of, is perhaps just one of a million accomplishments Rice takes pride in.
If you were to ask almost anyone who knows football; "What QB threw the 1st completion to Jerry?" Many if not all would reply "Joe Montana of course", well there all wrong. Jerry caught his first catch in the NFL from at the time 3rd stringer Matt Cavanaugh. Sure after running 8 yards he fumbled the ball - but even the best make mistakes, and early in his career Jerry made many. But he has made up for those mistakes, he was caught from behind once, and only once. Now as a 49er Jerry has been given the nick name "Flash 80" because of his game speed. Jerry's love and devotion for the game are what keep him as the leagues premier player. With all Jerry does he still has time for his family. His daughter sang the national anthem at his 'departure game' in 2000 against Chicago. His wife, who had a life threatening birth only a year earlier, has stood by Jerry, giving him her full support even when she needed him buy her side. To the man with 3 Super Bowl rings "cheers," Jerry this page is for you.