At 54, Jerry Rice still got game at 49ers camp

It’s no secret the 49ers have a lot of new faces walking around the practice facility in Santa Clara. From the head coach to the starting quarterback, the organization’s slate has been wiped clean.

On Monday, however, San Francisco got a blast from the past as former 49ers greats and Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Steve Young stopped by to share words of wisdom to the new regime.

Rookie running back Matt Breida commented on Rice and Young’s presence and said:

“It’s an inspiration from those guys. Just how hard they work… Being a part of the 49ers, I’m grateful those guys get to come and talk to us and I’m just honored I was able to listen to them talk.”

For Breida, attending his first NFL training camp as an undrafted rookie free agent, hearing sentiments of greatness was just one of treats he and the rest of the team was welcomed with.

During practice, while Young roamed around purely as an observer his counterpart, Rice, had other plans in mind.

In visibly good shape, Rice, 54, was decked out in dri-fit Nike-wear, receiving gloves and red and gold cleats to boot.

After warm-ups, the three-time Super Bowl champion then took it upon himself to run routes with the 49ers receiving corps.

The still-nimble Rice made it look easy as he snagged receptions from starting quarterback Brian Hoyer, much to the surprise of those watching, including rookie free agent Kendrick Bourne:

“Being out here practicing with (Rice) and seeing how much older he is and how he can still move well. It’s good learning from him… It’s definitely inspiring man, so it just tells you how hard you can go and how you can push your body to limits you never thought you could go.”

Rice ran through nearly the entire route tree, including slants, curls, comebacks and even go, or seam, routes. According to Bourne though, he did have issues with one:

“The only one he said he had a problem with was the kind of wide, seven-step out. He said you got to stick your ground in. I know his hips are probably tighter but he still looked pretty good though.”

Aside from that one hiccup, Rice seems to have retained much of his game since retiring from football in 2006. That also includes his willingness to be vocal towards players.

From the sidelines, Rice could be heard talking to the multitude of young wideouts, giving tips and advice to anyone who would listen. After all, who wouldn’t listen to a man who’s been dubbed the G.O.A.T. among NFL receivers.

That coupled with his tried and tested knowledge of the game, it would be hard to find a better person for the incredibly youthful 49ers team to learn from.

Considering the fact that the 49ers ranked dead last in passing last season with only 182 passing yards per game, Kyle Shanahan and company are clearly willing to try anything to improve upon that statistic.