Jerry Rice and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown have remained in communication for a while, so Rice knows what's on the mind of the seven-time Pro Bowl performer.
Rice on Monday said Brown wants to play for the 49ers, after the two FaceTimed on Sunday.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,” Rice said during an appearance on 95.7 The Game. "He wants to come here really badly."
And the Hall of Famer also made no secret of his desire to see the 49ers acquire Brown -- by whatever means possible.
“This guy, man, he’s a totally, complete team player," Rice said. "I don’t know what happened in Pittsburgh but I know that this guy, if he comes here to San Francisco, he’s going to do everything possible to help this team to win.”
Brown turns 31 in July. He has compiled six consecutive seasons with at least 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns receiving. In 2018, he caught 104 passes for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns.
However, Brown and the Steelers organization had their difficulties this season. Brown was benched for the Steelers’ Week 17 game. Last week, Steelers president Art Rooney II told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette it would be "hard to envision" Brown as part of the team for the 2019 season.
The Steelers must find a way, however, to account for more than $21 million the club has already paid to Brown as part of bonuses he received in 2017 and ’18.
Brown does not control where he plays next season. The Steelers can trade him to whichever team offers them the most in return. His salary is not a big concern for the 49ers. His scheduled pay for next season is more than $15 million. The 49ers will have approximately $70 million in salary-cap room. The 49ers have five draft picks this year, including the Nos. 2 and 36 overall selections.
“If it was left up to me, he’d be here in a heartbeat,” Rice said.
“It sends a message to the fans, that, ‘Hey, look, we’re not looking down the road to win. We’re looking to win right now.' And he’s that type of player -- big playmaker that can make those big plays and really put a lot of fans in the stands.”