The San Francisco 49ers will find themselves under more fire than most teams this season every time they lose a game. That’s because there have been multiple reports of unrest in their locker room, with several players supposedly not getting along with head coach Jim Harbaugh.
On Tuesday, Niners legend Jerry Rice confirmed what many already suspect.
“I have heard some complaints from some players that he likes to try to coach with the collegiate mentality, and that’s just not going to work in the NFL,” Rice told Newsday’s Bob Glauber.
Last month, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported with confidence that Harbaugh will not be back in San Francisco next season. That was consistent with what Deion Sanders had already said about the 49ers players wanting Harbaugh out.
“Who knows what’s going to happen with Jim Harbaugh?” Rice said. “[Next year] is up for grabs. I don’t know if he wants to try to go to be a college coach or go for the big payday [in the NFL]. I think the most important thing for Jim Harbaugh to do right now is to turn this around and make it a positive and get that team believing in themselves again.”
We don’t know if it was Harbaugh’s decision to call a quarterback sneak with 10 seconds remaining against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, but it was a questionable one. The Niners are now 4-4 with tough games remaining against the New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks (twice), San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals. If Harbaugh’s team misses the playoffs, the decision to fire him will probably be an easy one.
H/T Around the League
There are very few people that would make an argument for anyone but Jerry Rice as the greatest wide receiver in NFL history. Rice performed at a high level for more than 20 seasons, which is unheard of in football. He holds NFL records for career receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895) and receiving touchdowns (197). Could Calvin Johnson eventually dethrone the San Francisco 49ers legend?
Johnson is in his seventh NFL season and is roughly one-third of the way to Rice’s records in most categories. That means he is technically on pace to challenge those marks, but playing 20-plus seasons is an amazing feat — let alone doing it at an effective level. Rice recently alluded to that.
“I think it’s great that they’re still talking about me after my career’s over. (Johnson) still has a ways to go,” Rice told USA Today Sports on Tuesday. “We’re just going to let this guy continue to develop, and if he should break the majority of my records or break all my records, I’ll be the first one to congratulate him. But I know the sacrifice that you have to put into it. It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work.”
It takes a little luck, too. Johnson has missed only four games in his career, so he has been able to remain relatively healthy. That being said, he has dealt with some injuries that result in stretches of ineffective play. Staying on the field when he’s in his mid-30s will be a challenge. However, Rice said he believes Megatron has become more than just a physical force.
“I think (Johnson) has gotten so much better route running, and he doesn’t just rely on his jumping ability anymore,” Rice said. “That’s why he’s called Megatron. He’s a hell of a lot (to handle) on that football field. Right now he’s had about (63) touchdowns and he’s going strong. I wish him the best. I know what type of work ethic he has. He’s a complete player.
“When you’re so dominant in college and you’re such a big body, you’re so physical and so unstoppable, you don’t focus on just the little things. Now, I think (Johnson) wants to be the complete player.”
Could Johnson be the most physically dominant receiver to ever play? I’d argue that he is, though I’d still be surprised to see him topple Rice’s records. Sustaining success for that long just doesn’t happen.
Helmet smack to Tha Cover 2
Randy Moss made waves during the week leading up to the Super Bowl when he confidently proclaimed himself to be the greatest receiver to ever play in the NFL. Jerry Rice was not shy in expressing how strongly he disagrees with Moss, and he pointed to statistics and championship rings to argue that he, not Moss, is the best ever.
Naturally, Rice’s former quarterback also believes Moss is mistaken. During an appearance on PFT Live on Tuesday, Joe Montana talked about the differences between Moss and Rice.
“I just think that he can’t do all the things that Jerry could do,” Montana said. “Randy will get behind you and he’s pretty good at going up and down the field. But going across the middle and catching little 10-yard crosses and 5-yard shallow crosses and turning them into a big play by making people miss, that’s not going to happen. He may outrun you, but he’s not going to make you miss.
“He’s a great receiver, but he’s not Jerry Rice.”
One of the arguments Moss supporters will make is that Rice played with tremendous quarterbacks. Moss, on the other hand, bounced around throughout his career and played with some signal-callers who were average at best, with the exception of Tom Brady for more than three seasons and Brett Favre for a handful of games.
Moss may be the most physically-gifted receiver to ever play, but no one ever questioned Rice’s effort or work ethic. Whether you agree or not, the comments that Bill Romanowski made about Moss on Sunday would never have been made about Rice during his career. Had Randy given 100% effort throughout his 14-year career and continued his career the way it started, he would have certainly had a chance to be the best. Rice simply did it more consistently and for a longer time period.
Randy Moss has said hardly anything to this point in his first season with the San Francisco 49ers, but he may have tossed out the quote of the week at Super Bowl media day on Tuesday. While answering questions from writers and reporters on Monday, Moss labeled himself the greatest receiver of all time.
“I don’t live off numbers,” Moss said when asked about how much of a roller coaster his career has been, via Boston.com. “I live off impact. So I really do think that I’m the greatest receiver to play this game.”
Jerry Rice was quick to disagree with Moss and asked that their numbers be compared. Of course, ESPN obliged:
The Oakland Raiders were crushed 48-21 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego nearly 10 years ago. The game was one of the most lopsided in Super Bowl history, and now, almost 10 years later, accusations are surfacing that Bill Callahan may have thrown the big game.
The accusations first came from 9-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Tim Brown. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice agreed with Brown, while other former Raiders disagree.
We’ll start with the comments made by Brown over the weekend on SiriusXM NFL radio, as shared by Pro Football Talk.
“We get our game plan for victory on Monday, and the game plan says we’re gonna run the ball,” Brown said Saturday. “We averaged 340 [pounds] on the offensive line, they averaged 280 [on the defensive line]. We’re all happy with that, everybody is excited. [We] tell Charlie Garner, ‘Look, you’re not gonna get too many carries, but at the end of the day we’re gonna get a victory. Tyrone Wheatley, Zack Crockett, let’s get ready to blow this thing up.’”
According to Brown, Callahan then inexplicably changed the entire gameplan on Friday, two days before the big game. They went from planning a run-heavy attack to deciding to throw it 60 times. Brown called into question Callahan’s relationship with Jon Gruden when discussing the situation. Gruden was the coach of the Raiders from 1998-2001, so he was facing his former team in the Super Bowl in his first season with his new team.
Jerry Rice is one of the best football players of all time and holds many career and single-season records. He has the most career receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and career touchdowns of any player in NFL history, but his single-season receiving yards record was broken on Saturday night.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson had 11 catches for 225 yards against the Atlanta Falcons to give him 1,892 yards on the season, which surpasses Rice’s record of 1,848 receiving yards achieved in 1995. Though Rice doesn’t like losing a record, he said prior to Johnson breaking his record that he wouldn’t mind Megatron break it.
“Well, you never want your record to be broken,” Rice admitted during a guest interview on ESPN Saturday, “but if anyone is going to do it, I would prefer Megatron to try and do it.”
Rice elaborated on his position.
“I believe records are meant to be broken,” he told Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico. “I’ll be the first one to congratulate this guy because I know what he stands for. He’s a hard worker. He got the major contract and he’s still hungry, and he wants to prove to everybody that he’s the best receiver to play the game.
“The thing that I really like is that he says ‘We have a chance to do something special.’ That right there told me that it’s not an individual thing, but a team concept.”
Rice also likes that Johnson has greater goals in mind.
“I think this guy is not only trying to break my record, but he’s trying to get to 2,000 yards. I tried to get to 2,000 yards and was not successful at it. I think he’s going to do it.
“I just sit back and I’m like a fan. He can run every route from the slant route to run by you with that 4.35 speed. He can outjump you and levitate his body and make those incredible catches. He has all the tools.
“This guy is really amazing. He’s a true talent, and that’s why they call him Megatron.”
Perhaps the best news of all for Rice is that Johnson is the one to break his mark, not another star wide receiver like Randy Moss, because we know Rice wouldn’t have enjoyed that.
Megatron has been among the best receivers in the NFL since beginning his career in Detroit, and he has separated himself as the top receiver in the game the past three seasons. He will be a worthy record holder, and hopefully he breaks many more records during his career.
Just a reminder: Cris Carter said last August that Johnson was not an elite wide receiver. What a dope.
In addition to setting the record for receiving yards in a season, Johnson set a record for his eighth straight 100-yard receiving game, tied a record with his 11th 100-yard receiving game of the season, and set a record with four straight games of at least 10 receptions.
When Jim Harbaugh became the coach of the 49ers last season, he made the unpopular decision of sticking with Alex Smith at quarterback. Overall, you would have to say it was a success. Prior to Harbaugh taking over, San Francisco had not finished with a winning record since 2002. Despite the fact that he called him an elite quarterback during the middle of the season, Harbuagh called on Smith to do try to do less and simply protect the football. It worked, and the combination of a phenomenal defense and an efficient offense resulted in an NFC Championship appearance.
This offseason, the Niners went out and signed Randy Moss and Mario Manningham in addition to drafting A.J. Jenkins to bolster their passing game. Jerry Rice feels as though now would be a good time to let Smith loose.
“I seriously think they got to take the diaper off this guy and let him play,” Rice said on “Audibles” Thursday night according to USA TODAY. “Let him be a grown man.”
As the unnecessary shot he took at Cam Newton proved, Smith doesn’t care about statistics. He only cares about winning football games, which is what any successful NFL quarterback should say. However, the Niners could be an offensive explosion away from winning a championship. We already know they have the defense to win it all, but if Smith could become a better passer it would make San Francisco extremely hard to stop. Perhaps the Niners legend is simply doing his part to give Smith something to prove.
Photo credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE
Former 49ers legend Jerry Rice believes Alex Smith did a good job leading San Francisco to the NFC Championship Game last season, but he thinks the team should go after Peyton Manning if the ex-MVP becomes available.
“I think you go for it,” Rice said Tuesday. “A guy of that talent, you’ve got everything in place. You’ve got a defense that smacks you in the mouth. You just need a little more out of the offense. That’s not knocking what Alex (Smith) did. (Manning) can take you to a whole different level.”
Rice is extremely confident in Peyton’s ability, even though Manning is recovering from surgery.
“If he goes to the Washington Redskins, I guarantee they win 10 games. If he goes to Miami, they win 10 games,” Rice said.
Maybe Rice was impressed by the video of Peyton Manning throwing at Duke and feels Peyton can return to his pre-injury form. Even though Smith looked good last season, I agree with Rice — Peyton, if recovered, can take the 49ers to another level and give them a threat on offense. Paired with that defense, San Francisco would be dangerous.
H/T Pro Football Talk
Why is it that Jerry Rice is considered the greatest receiver of all time? Is it because he had the best quarterbacks? They were pretty good. Is it because he has the most natural-born talent? He has quite a bit of that, too. Or is it just because he wanted it more than everyone else? According to Rice, that’s the thing that separates him from a guy like Randy Moss.
As Pro Football Talk pointed out, Rice joined ESPN Radio Tuesday morning and shared some thoughts about the recently-retired Moss. Rice said he believes Moss could have been one of the greatest receivers in football history had he just tried harder.
“It was hard for me to swallow because I was not as talented and I had to work harder,” he said. “To see a guy with that much talent not give it 100 percent, it was almost like a little slap in the face. But Randy was Randy.
“He could have been one of the greatest if he had worked just a little bit harder. I don’t think he wanted to give it 100 percent. You never knew what you were going to get with Randy. Sometimes you’d get the unbelievable guy, the amazing guy. Other times you’d get the guy that took a couple plays off.”
For many of us, Rice is simply stating the obvious. Moss was accused of quitting when Matt Cassel took over for New England and has given up various times throughout his career. Members of the media have always criticized Moss for being a quitter, but it sounds a little better coming from the greatest receiver in NFL history. Moss had the tools to be even better than Rice, but he always lacked the heart.
As the Pats head into the final weekend of the regular season, they are poised to break several records. With a win, they will become the first team to go 16-0 in the regular season, joining the ’72 Dolphins as the only team to finish the regular season undefeated. With two touchdown passes, Tom Brady will beat Peyton Manning’s record of 49 during the regular season. And with two touchdown catches, Randy Moss will beat Jerry Rice’s record of 22 during the regular season.
Putting aside the Patriotgate issues that have given reason for people to doubt the legitimacy of New England’s pursuit of perfection, there is another record that is called into question: Randy Moss against Jerry Rice. In 1987, Rice caught an incredible 22 TD passes from Joe Montana in only 12 games because of the strike. Through 15 games this year Moss has 21, not 22 TDs. Does it hurt his record if it took him more games to break Rice’s mark?
I think it’s just a small footnote in the record books should Moss catch more than one TD and break Rice’s record. Did anyone say anything about McGwire or Bonds or any other modern baseball record that was achieved in 162 games rather than 154? Not much of a fuss has been raised about this issue since 1961. Just like nobody will remember the close calls against the Ravens and Eagles, nobody will remember that it took Moss extra games. One caveat however: Moss still needs to catch at least two touchdowns to make this argument relevant.
*You might also enjoy a previous comparison in which I argue that Randy Moss is better than Jerry Rice.