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Jerry Rice would be a member of the All-Time NFL team.
Wide Receivers: Jerry Rice (1985 - 2000) & Terrell Owens (1996 - 2003)
The first person on this selection should be the first player selected on any all-time NFL team.
Jerry Rice - Wide Receiver
As previously stated, Jerry Rice is the best wide receiver to have ever played the game. Yes, Randy Moss, I hear you, and yes, Randy, I still disagree with you 100 percent.
Coming out of Mississippi Valley State, Rice was a highly-touted receiver, yet for some reason, a number of teams passed on him. When the 49ers traded up to the 16th overall pick in 1985, two receivers, Eddie Brown and Al Toon had already been drafted. While both Brown and Toon would go on to have decent careers, the clear winner of the 1985 draft were Rice and the 49ers.
Rice had an immediate impact during his rookie season, attaining 49 receptions for 927 yards in an offense that already featured Joe Montana and Dwight Clark. Once Rice started his second season, he was off to the races and would impact the game of football perhaps more than any other player at any time.
Fans and experts know his statistics. I would not be surprising anyone there. 1,281 receptions for 19,247 yards and 176 touchdowns during his fabled San Francisco career. He smashed records, setting them higher than almost anyone could ever achieve. Some records, like his 22,895 career receiving yards, may never be broken.
What is perhaps even more impressive is how Rice would be selected to the Pro Bowl in 1986 and not miss another Pro Bowl until an injury thwarted his 1997 season. Rice would also be named first team All-Pro in all but one of the seasons over the same timespan.
Rice would also win three Super Bowls with the 49ers and earn Super Bowl MVP honors in Super Bowl XXIII.
There is no doubting Rice's impact on the game of football. The NFL awarded Rice with the number one selection in The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players. Yet Rice's legacy expands beyond the game itself.
Former teammate Ronnie Lott summarized it pretty well by saying:
If Michael Jordan was the standard for hard work in basketball, then Jerry Rice is the standard for football. Most people didn't think he would have the impact that he did on this game. But he came into the league trying to make a team. Jerry always told me that he never played the perfect game. In his mind, that's a lofty deal. A lot of people would take a few of his games as perfection. (via usatoday.com)
It does not get much better than that.
This was a selection that I had to think about.
Okay, I cringed a little.
I am pretty sure that when most people think of Terrell Owens, they think of all the controversy that has surrounded his career. They think of his showboating, him dancing on the star in the middle of the field at Texas Stadium, calling out various quarterbacks and spitting in the face of cornerback DeAngelo Hall.
Yet if we can separate the attitude from the talent just for a moment, we can also recall the fact that Owens was one of the most productive receivers to ever wear a 49ers uniform.
When San Francisco drafted him in the third round of the 1996 draft, they were hoping to get a receiver that could complement the aging Jerry Rice and provide another target for quarterback Steve Young.
In 1998, Owens began to come into his own hauling in 67 passes for 1,097 yards and 14 touchdowns during the season. While dropped passes were an unfortunate part to his early game, Owens was emerging as a solid receiver.
During the playoffs, the 49ers faced the Green Bay Packers in the Wildcard Game and Owens, who had struggled with dropped passes throughout much of the game, hauled in the eventual winning touchdown pass from Steve Young in the waning seconds of the game to give the 49ers a 30-27 victory.
The catch has since been referred to as "The Catch Number Two," taking a spot behind the initial "catch" from Joe Montana to Dwight Clark against the Dallas Cowboys during the 1982 NFC championship game.
During his 49er tenure, Owens would amass a total of 592 receptions for 8,572 yards and 81 touchdowns. His receiving yards and touchdowns place him second on the 49ers' all-time leaders list behind Rice.
Yes, there are the controversies, and many of them occurred with the 49ers. However, one cannot deny that Owens was a legitimate threat on the field and a guy who never took a play off even if the ball was not thrown in his direction. On the sidelines and off the field however, Owens was a different story.
Dwight Clark (1979 - 1987)
Gene Washington (1969 - 1977)