49ers

Jerry Rice still holds three major NFL records, but will they ever be broken?

riceap.jpg
AP

Jerry Rice still holds three major NFL records, but will they ever be broken?

When Jerry Rice retired before the 2005 season, he was the unquestioned greatest receiver in NFL history. Many even viewed him as the greatest player of all time. 

Rice certainly still holds that title for receivers and is in the debate among all players. The question now is, will anyone break Rice's three major receiving records?

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio and NBC Sports' Peter King recently asked that exact question, so it's time for us to do the same.

The former 49ers star -- yes, he also played for the Raiders -- finished his career with the most receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895) and receiving touchdowns (197) in NFL history. If you include his rushing touchdowns, Rice actually had 207 total TDs. 

Let's start with career receptions, which has a real chance of being broken. It all depends on how long Larry Fitzgerald continues to play. 

Fitzgerald is No. 2 on the all-time list with 1,378, putting him 171 receptions behind Rice. The 36-year-old signed a one-year contract in January to come back for his 17th season with the Arizona Cardinals. He had 75 receptions last season in quarterback Kyler Murray's rookie year last season. 

Fitzgerald actually might be in line for a bigger season this year -- if the NFL even has a season. Murray will be in his second season under coach Kliff Kingsbury's offense, and the addition of DeAndre Hopkins could free up Fitzgerald.

If Fitzgerald continues to sign one-year deals with Arizona, there's a real chance he could surpass Rice's record. But that's a big if. Rice should hold onto the record for years to come if Fitzgerald only has another year or two in his tank.

Listen and subscribe to the 49ers Insider Podcast:

To no surprise, Fitzgerald is second in career receiving yards but is 5,812 yards behind Rice. Yeah, that's not going to happen. 

Julio Jones, 31, already has 12,125 receiving yards and has averaged 1,347 through his first nine years. Hopkins, 27, has 8,602 yards through seven seasons and has averaged 1,229 receiving yards per year.

For comparison, Rice averaged 1,090 receiving yards but that was over 20 years. If anyone has a chance, however small it might be, it's Julio. Good luck on maintaining that pace for another 10 years.

[RELATED: Vernon Davis explains his emotions after 'The Catch III']

And finally, there are the touchdowns. That record isn't going anywhere. Jones has 57 career receiving TDs and Hopkins has 54. Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans have 48. From 1986 to '96, Rice averaged 13.7 receiving touchdowns. He scored nine at 39 years old with the Raiders. 

Rice simply was a machine. A 17-game schedule could help players like Fitzgerald, Jones and Hopkins get within range of Rice, but don't expect the greatest receiver of all time see his records fall.

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo absorbs Joe Montana's wisdom about winning

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo absorbs Joe Montana's wisdom about winning

Throughout NFL history, of quarterbacks to start at least 100 career games, only Tom Brady (.773) and Roger Staubach (.746) have posted better regular-season winning percentages than 49ers legend Joe Montana (.713). So, when it comes to knowing the secrets to victory, he's a pretty good source of advice.

Montana won 117 of his 164 career regular-season starts, precisely 100 victories of which came with San Francisco. On Wednesday, he posted a photo on Instagram from the final one of those wins with the 49ers, in which he offered up a secret to his success.

"Winners, I am convinced, imagine their dreams first," Montana wrote. "They want it with all their heart and expect it to come true. There is, I believe, no other way to live."
As of the time of this writing, that post had received 15,685 likes, one of which came from another 49ers quarterback who happens to have a knack for winning as well -- Jimmy Garoppolo.

[RELATED: Where Jimmy G, Carr rank among NFL starting quarterbacks]

Jimmy G, of course, displayed his penchant for winning immediately upon joining the 49ers, winning his first five starts after San Francisco acquired him midway through the 2017 season. Across 24 regular-season starts with the 49ers, he has posted a 19-5 record (.792). Not to mention, he was arguably one missed completion away from winning Super Bowl LIV.

Garoppolo might have his own secrets to his success, but it certainly can't hurt if he picks up a thing or two from Joe Cool.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

NFL rumors: George Kittle, 49ers 'not close at all' on new contract

NFL rumors: George Kittle, 49ers 'not close at all' on new contract

George Kittle is the best tight end in the NFL. He just doesn't want to be paid like it.

Kittle arguably is the 49ers' best overall player, and an indispensable part of their operation. He is a leader in the locker room, their top receiving threat and his blocking ability is closer to that of an above-average offensive lineman. Perhaps that's why his agent is looking to get him paid -- not as a tight end, receiver or linemen -- but rather, some combination of those positions.

"I've been talking a lot to [Kittle's] agent, Jack Bechta, over the last couple of months and he has consistently said, 'I don't care about the tight end market; I'm being paid to do a George Kittle deal,'" NFL Network's Michael Silver said Friday on "NFL Total Access." "And I tend to agree with him here. He is their No. 1 target, so important in that locker room, and clearly, he is doing something that transcends what a typical tight end does."

Last season, Kittle led San Francisco with 85 receptions (on 107 targets) for 1,053 yards despite missing two games due to injury. His 3,106 receiving yards (including the playoffs) are the most ever in NFL history by a tight end in his first three seasons. And, as Silver noted, with Kittle in the lineup last season, the 49ers -- heading into Super Bowl LIV -- averaged 5.6 yards on rushes outside of the tackles; when he was out of the lineup, that number dropped to 3.3 yards.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

He is a dynamic offensive weapon, which adds to the complexity of his contract negotiations. Back in 2014, Bears tight end Jimmy Graham signed a four-year, $40 million contract that reset the market at that position, and in the time since, there has been minimal growth. According to Over the Cap, Chargers tight end Hunter Henry currently averages the highest annual salary at the position at $10.607 million.

It isn't expected to be a quick or simple negotiation, and it's easy to see why. San Francisco, of course, would love to secure Kittle on as low of an agreeable salary as possible, but it's assumed both sides have differing opinions -- at least initially -- on exactly what that would be.

And, as Silver reported, it doesn't sound like Kittle and the 49ers are closing in on a deal anytime soon.

"They're not close at all," Silver said. "There were some preliminary talks back in February; nothing for the last couple months. ... This is a difficult situation because during a pandemic, owners are not super eager to shell out massive deals. There's a lot of uncertainty. And so I'm not sure how much of this situation can be attributed to the unique COVID-19 situation, and how much of it is just a gap in how each side views this. I know there's a lot of good intention. You talk to the 49ers, they say, 'We want him. We will get this done.' I know George Kittle wants to be there, but they have a ways to go in terms of figuring out his value."

[RELATED: Pay the man: Why Kittle deserves to be paid like top WR]

Ultimately, if San Francisco and Kittle can't come to an agreement, the 49ers always have the option of applying the franchise tag on him next offseason when he is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. That would pay him the average of the top-five players at his position in 2021.

Of course, first, they must come to an agreement on what his position is.