San Francisco 49ers legend Jerry Rice may not be on the field anymore but he does voice his opinion from time to time on matters concerning the team and the NFL. On Tuesday, while he was promoting TPC Stonebrae Championship golf tournament, Rice did not hold back on his thoughts on Michael Crabtree and said the 49ers should pursue Peyton Manning. Here is what he had to say talking with the Marin Independent Journal:
Jerry Rice on Michael Crabtree:
They need someone to strike fear into the opposing team and take the (defensive) coverage off. You’ve got that in Vernon Davis. Beside that, even with (Michael) Crabtree, I thought he would be a little more productive last year.
Rice said he constantly scrutinized Crabtree’s route running last season and noted: “I just did not see separation.” One solution, Rice suggested, was that Crabtree drop 10 to 15 pounds to gain explosiveness.
That’ll be up to him to make that decision. You have to sacrifice yourself and put your team’s best interest at heart. I don’t really know the guy so I can’t really comment on his work ethic. They feel there’s potential there but it’ll be up to him to say, ‘I want to be the best receiver I have to be and I’m going to have to sacrifice some things.’
Jerry Rice on Peyton Manning (Rice made the Manning comments before his release was announced):
I think you go for it. A guy of that talent, you’ve got everything in place. You’ve got a defense that smacks you in the mouth. You just need a little more out of the offense. That’s not knocking what Alex (Smith) did. (Manning) can take you to a whole different level.
If he goes to the Washington Redskins, I guarantee they win 10 games. If he goes to Miami, they win 10 games.
If they’re going to invest that much money in Alex and they feel he can get the job done, then do it. I know he made significant improvement this year and did what was asked of him. If he can get more weapons around him and knowing he has a coach that has confidence in him, that he doesn’t have to look over his shoulder, it might bring the best out of him.
I completely agree with Rice’s assessment on Crabtree, however, disagree with his views on the 49ers signing Manning. Crabtree’s production could improve by dropping some weight, especially when it comes to beating a defender down the field, which the 49ers passing offense lacked last season. In a recent post, I said all the talk of acquiring a wide receiver will light a fire under Crabtree. Rice has a point about Crabtree needs to be willing to “sacrifice yourself and put your team’s best interest at heart.” There have been times the last three seasons I questioned where Crabtree’s heart was at. Sometimes, Crabtree seems to be just going through the motions. Rice said he does not “know the guy” and “can’t comment on his work ethic”, however, we all know Crabtree can improve his work ethic by going through his first-full off-season of OTA’s, training camp and preseason games.
The talk, and eventual signing of a wide receiver, by the 49ers will push Crabtree to have his best-season of his career. Otherwise, Crabtree will be added to a long-list of failed wide receivers who were drafted in the first-round and never lived up to their potential with the 49ers.
Peyton Manning leaving the Colts is now official with a press conference set for Wednesday. With Alex Smith not signed yet, there will be plenty of fans not only from the 49ers but from around the league, who will express their opinions on signing Manning. I will guarantee the 49ers do not pursue Peyton Manning, at all. Rice makes a great point about the 49ers having a “defense that smacks you in the mouth” and the offense just needs to produce a little more, but how is it that Manning is the answer? If this was the Peyton from two years ago, I would say yes. But this is a Peyton Manning who did not play at all last season, will be 36 years old soon and is coming off of two neck surgeries in the past year. With the way Alex Smith played last season under Jim Harbaugh, I would take Alex over Peyton.