Early Thursday morning I had a phone interview with former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice, the greatest receiver to ever to it, to promote his Rice-A-Roni brand. We were never going to lead with that. Not the way the season has started. The first question I asked was if it’s surprising that the 49ers have started the season 3-0. We talk about how teams are going to give you their best shot, no matter who is on the field. The majority of games are competitive in the NFL.
For the first time in a while, the Niners are playing complementary football. The offense has picked up the defense at times. The defense has picked up the offense plenty of times. It hasn’t happened yet, but there will be a time where the Special Teams saves the day whether that’s a Robbie Gould field goal, or a big return by Richie James.
Rice talked about the biggest difference in today’s game compared to when he played. That was an easy answer for him. He talked about how much of an impact RPO’s have had on the game. I thought it was interesting when he brought up how teams don’t take shots down the field after turnovers anymore. Rice said whenever there was a sudden change, and Bill Walsh was going to throw it deep, no questions asked. That still happens today, I think defenses overreact, and that’s why we do not see the big plays after a turnover like we did yesteryear.
Jerry is a big fan of Jimmy Garoppolo. He actually said if he could tailgate with one person on the roster, it’d be Jimmy G. He somehow spun that to Rice-A-Roni to plug his brand, where Rice said: “we’re both San Francisco treats.” Speaking of tailgating, he found a way to promote Rice-A-Roni as a food you can tailgate with, so there’s that. I laughed. I also sold Jimmy G short one win. He’s 11-2 as a starter for the Niners.
Rice said he’s still in great shape. He still runs “the hill,” and is big into cross-fit. Rice said he’s at his playing weight right now. He’s convinced he can still play.
We end the conversation by talking about the 49ers ceiling, and what will prevent them from reaching it. It was a fun conversation.