SAN FRANCISCO – If the rumblings prove true, Jerry Rice could be moving north. To Seattle.
Rice, whose 16-year career with the San Francisco 49ers is scheduled to end with his release on June 1, visited the Seahawks last Friday, met with coach Mike Holmgren and underwent the team's physical examination, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.
Rice, who passed the exam, has taken no other physicals for other teams, nor is he scheduled for any others, the newspaper said. The Cleveland Browns have spoken with him and his agent, Jim Steiner. And while the Detroit Lions say they're interested, they haven't followed through yet.
Oakland has come up in rumors, too. That might be Rice's dream, to remain in the Bay Area, but a Raiders source told the Chronicle that there's virtually no chance of that happening. Seattle looks like a fit for several reasons. Holmgren released his starting veteran wideouts, Sean Dawkins and Derrick Mayes, and is left with three players of two years of experience or less -- Darrell Jackson, James Williams and Karsten Bailey. Rice got along well with Holmgren when he was the 49ers' offensive coordinator, and the Seahawks operate a West Coast offense similar to what the 49ers use.
Rice did not talk about a contract on his visit to Seattle, because the NFL won't permit that until after the 49ers release him. Still, the Seahawks have room available under the salary cap, and Holmgren says he plans to sign at least one and perhaps two veterans at wide receiver.
"(Rice) would be good for us for a year or two," Holmgren told the Chronicle.
Steiner said Rice, who will turn 39 in October, wants to play two more years. That would permit him to put more distance between himself and his pursuers in the record books. If he joined the Seahawks, it would also probably allow him to play two games against the 49ers in the 2002 season following the NFL's realignment.
Rice caught 75 passes last season for the 49ers, including seven for touchdowns. He is 29 touchdowns ahead of Emmitt Smith on the all-time list, and needs 13 more to reach 200 for his career. Rice is 261 catches ahead of second-place Cris Carter and 6,285 receiving yards ahead of Carter, who is second among active players. Under his contract with the 49ers, Rice was scheduled to earn $2.5 million this season, including a $1 million roster bonus due June 2. He likely will have to accept less from a new team. The Browns are in position to pay the most money, but Steiner said money would not be the only issue.
Because of the two knee surgeries he endured in 1997, Rice would prefer to finish his career on a grass field. Seattle's field is not grass, but its new strain of soft, artificial turf won rave reviews last year.
I don't want to see Jerry Rice in another uniform.Especially Seattle!