'That's not the standard of the San Francisco 49ers': Jerry Rice rips lack of professionalism in season opener

©The Mercury News

Niners legend Jerry Rice was only 3-for-10 passing in his career, but he has proven to be a fairly effective Monday morning quarterback in retirement.

The best wide receiver of all time had some notes for the 49ers’ depleted receiving corps Monday morning after their disappointing season-opening loss to the Cardinals.

In an appearance on 95.7 The Game’s morning show, he was not focused on route-running or catching passes, instead offering a broader criticism of the 49ers’ disposition and body language.

“During the break they were playing music and we had certain guys dancing that hadn’t done anything on the football field. They didn’t have a reception or anything,” Rice said, declining to name names. “That’s not the standard of the San Francisco 49ers. If you want to dance or do whatever, you shouldn’t be wearing that uniform. You gotta be productive, you’ve gotta contribute to the team. And if you can’t do that, go do something else.

“That pissed me off,” Rice continued. “The Niners are not about that. If you score a touchdown, you can do whatever you want. You can dance, you can break dance, I don’t care. But if you’re dancing and you haven’t made a catch or anything, I have a problem with that.”

Rice was one of the few people allowed inside Levi’s Stadium to watch the game live as fans were kept out due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said he saw the effects of a canceled preseason and several injuries on the Niners, who had only three receivers available by the end of the game with Deebo Samuel and first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk injured. But ultimately, Rice said it is up to the team to compete, with or without fans in attendance — a directive head coach Kyle Shanahan shared when the organization announced fans would not be allowed for the opener.

“I saw some rust. The team, execution-wise, they weren’t as sharp. A lot of missed opportunities,” Rice said. “It just felt weird because I’m in the stadium I’m looking down on the field and I’m saying to myself, when you look over and you see an opponent wearing a different jersey, it’s time to compete, it’s time to go.”

When asked about the effect of the strange atmosphere on the team, Rice said he would accept no excuse.

“We gotta stop using that as an excuse. We are paid professionals. This is what we do for our livelihood,” Rice said. “Yes, we miss the fans, we would love for the fans to be in the stands, but if you cannot get up for a game against an opponent in your stadium, I have a problem with that. These are some of the scenarios that really have to be addressed in the locker room.”

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©2020 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)