Few players are more synonymous with both Super Bowl titles and the 49ers than Jerry Rice, so when he speaks about both, people are going to listen. After all, he is a legend to which current stud wide receivers are compared. Following the 49ers great start, Rice had high praise for both the team and for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. However, some are saying that Rice’s praise was maybe a little bit too confident for an unproven quarterback on a team that has recently struggled to rise above mediocrity.
Jerry Rice’s superb career
Although Jerry Rice may have had four years with both Oakland and a brief stop in Seattle, the brunt of his superstar career happened in San Francisco, where he played from 1985 until 2000. There, he made a case as one of the best wide receivers to ever play the game of football. His connections with both Joe Montana and Steve Young are still talked about to this day as two of the best quarterback and wide receiver duos of all time.
Rice’s career numbers speak for themselves. He caught for nearly 23,000 yards and 197 touchdowns. Rice was a Pro Bowler in three separate decades after making the game as a 40-year-old in Oakland. He could run with the best of them and make defenses pay with even the slightest mistake in coverage, and all of this made him a surefire Hall of Famer as soon as he retired.
What Jerry Rice said about the 49ers in 2019
Rice, who has three Super Bowl rings, did not hold back his excitement when it came to Garoppolo and the current 49ers. The team is 4-0 and looking better than it has since Colin Kaepernick’s emergence and the Niners’ last failed trip to the Big Game. After speaking about some turnover problems in the first two games and what he would do to fix the team, Rice dropped a bombshell when he revealed his expectations for how good the team could be.
“I don’t want to jump the gun,” Rice told them, “but I’m starting to feel it a little bit. These guys are looking really, really like contenders.”
Going back to their recent success in Ohio, Rice got more specific about how good the Niners can be.
“They gotta stay in that Holiday Inn, they have to eat that ice cream, they just have to focus on football. If they do that, man, I feel like they have a great chance of winning the Super Bowl.”
Rice spoke about how Kyle Shanahan’s offense and defense are impressing him, their young talent, and how he believes that Garoppolo can be the real deal if he can stay healthy. Those are meaningful words coming from a man whose jersey is in the rafters, but is it realistic?
Can the Niners prove him right?
The 49ers are undefeated heading into their game against the Browns, and the first two games were absolute blowouts. Garoppolo, who sat out most of last season with an injury, is finding his targets, throwing for 739 yards through three games, but his four interceptions to go against his five touchdowns are a concern. His favorite targets, George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, are getting the ball down the field when given the opportunity, and Jeff Wilson is single-handedly getting the rushing touchdowns they need.
Another thing that cannot be understated is the competition that the 49ers have faced. The three teams who the 49ers have defeated have combined for only three wins through the first four weeks. Jerry Rice may be confident in the team, but it is still entirely too early. If the team can start beating the more formidable opponents who start streaming in, however, there could be merit for what he said.