Best rookie seasons in San Francisco 49ers history: No. 7: WR, Jerry Rice (1985)
It’s a little odd to see Hall of Famer Jerry Rice not on top of a 49ers-related list, but his rookie season didn’t get off to an instant stellar start.
Through the first 13 games of the season, in fact, Rice only had 28 catches for 493 yards—a very solid start for a rookie, but not exactly something you would count as being particularly notable. He struggled with drops early on and has admitted since then that he was pressing too much, trying to do too much right off the bat.
He only started four games, behind Dwight Clark and Freddie Solomon.
Then, in December, something just seemed to fall into place. Against the Los Angeles Rams, Rice caught 10 passes for 241 yards, which was at the time a team record and is still fourth-highest in franchise history. He followed that up with 82 and 111-yard days in the final two games of the regular season, and never really looked back. His 927 receiving yards still rank highest in franchise history among pass-catchers.
He was named the NFC’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, and the rest, as they say, is history.