Is It Time- 03/17/2000
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It's the year 2000 - no flying cars, and no androids like many may have expected. Wide Receiver Jerry Rice is 38 years old, and quarterback Steve Young 39; it is the future - are the 49ers living in the past? The answer to this question is far from simple, and to best understand the situation the 49ers are currently in it is necessary to look at the past.

1997, the 49ers finish the season at 13-3, a record many teams would have loved to have- the season that the 49ers simply could no longer cover up the problems. Thirteen wins, and yes problems. The team was slow, the team was old, and the team was on its way down. Fans, players and the organization all in denial, but this is when it all started, 1997.

Now in the year 2000 the 49ers are faced with a tough situation. Finally the team has realized it must get younger, faster and deal with the salary cap. As a result, this season has seen the departure of team leaders such as Tim McDonald and veterans such as Lee Woodall. There are two players in question that remain. Jerry Rice. Steve Young.

Rice unarguably the greatest receiver if not player to ever participate in the game of football; lead the team in receptions last season even without a real starting quarterback. The team struggled, so did Rice - but he was still productive. The problem is quite simply the salary cap. The 49ers are currently 2 million dollars under the cap, and that 2 million is allocated to the drafted players. Rice has so far refused to restructure his 5 million dollar contract and as a result the 49ers and Jerry Rice may part in opposite directions. Would it be for the better? In time quite possibly, but in this ever so fragile season when the 49ers will be walking the extremely thin line between veterans and youngsters, Rice is an integral part of the system, the loss of whom would no doubt be devastating.

Steve Young, was the future, he followed Joe Montana and gave the 49ers their second century of ultimate football. Young got married this past week, and his concussion prone head is currently mulling over if he should play football again. The 49ers want Young back if his health is not at risk. Young has already reduced his contract figure to 1 million dollars plus incentives. Is it time to move on? Is the risk to large to take? Either way the 49ers will be searching for some one to groom for the future or rather the present 49ers.

It is the future, and sadly enough Rice and Young are the past, but it may not be time to simply move on. It may be time to move into transition. Let Young and Rice play, keep them on the team, and slowly reduce their role while increasing playing time for the up and coming players. It's the honorable thing to do for two of the greatest players to ever walk onto the field at 3 Com Park, and it is what should be done.
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