Jerry Rice is commonly known as the greatest wide receiver in football. He played the majority of his time on the San Francisco 49ers. He played for 20 seasons.
During this time he broke records for receptions, touchdown interceptions, and receiving yards. His stats soar above any other receiver.
He won three Super Bowls and scored more points than any other non-kicker in NFL history.
Jerry Rice and Joe Montana
However, a great deal of a wide receiver’s success comes from the quarterback.
Good passes, great chemistry, similar playing styles, and an overall connection with the quarterback makes it easier for wide receivers to up their stats.
For Jerry Rice, when Joe Montana left the 49ers and was replaced by Steve Young in 1992, everything changed.
“With Joe, it was so smooth… he knew my body language, he knew exactly when I was getting ready to come out of the cut so he could let the ball go. He had the confidence in me that I was going to fight for the ball in that play…” Rice said to ESPN.
The two were a powerful combination. Together, they helped raise each other’s stats for the years they played together. With the help of Montana, Rice racked up yards and touchdowns. With the help of Rice, Montana always had someone where he expected them to be. Together, they had several playoff wins.
The chemistry developed was unreal.
“I said, ‘Joe, man, if you were a female, I would date you because we got such great chemistry,'” Rice said.
Moving on with Steve Young
Then, in 1992, Montana got traded to Kansas City. When Steve Young came in it was a huge transition. Not only because Rice was starting new and having to build a new bond, but Young was a leftie.
Jerry Rice was not used to catching from the left. The trajectory and spin on the ball are completely different. He spent time in training practicing over and over how to catch the ball from a left-handed quarterback.
“Now everything I had developed with Joe I had to put that on the back burner and transition to speed … I was always that guy that was somehow going to make plays for you…” Rice said.
At first, Young was more of a runner, which could have hurt Rice’s game as a receiver. However, eventually, the two were more in-sync with the way they played. Both adapted, possibly for the better.
Rice goes on to say, “I feel like I had two of the greatest quarterbacks in the game.”
The attitude problem is well-known for wide receivers, especially players like Terrell Owens, Keyshawn Johnson, and Randy Moss. This is in great part because of their vital position on the team, which means they know how essential they are.
Besides his stats soaring above all the other wide receivers, Jerry Rice was known for his work ethic and commitment to players that would lead to his great success.