Dwight Clark looks back at Jerry Rice's career

August 5, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Jerry Rice will join football's immortals on Saturday when he is enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and one man who knows Rice well is former San Francisco 49er teammate Dwight Clark. Former 49er wide receiver and ABC7 sports anchor Mike Shumann sat down with Clark to reflect on Rice's style.

When Clark was asked to describe Rice in one sentence, he replied Rice was the "most competitive, hardest working player that took his ability to the highest possible level to become the greatest football player of all time."

However, as ABC7's Mike Shumann pointed out, Rice wasn't always catching everything that was coming his way during his first year in the league.

Clark replied, "No, he was struggling a little bit and you know how it is in the Bill Walsh office. You're thinking so much about coverages and where am I supposed to be, do I sit down here, do I keep going, is that man-to-man or zone, and you forget to catch the ball sometimes."

Clark continued, "You know how Larry Fitzgerald these days just goes and just takes the ball? that's what [Rice] was doing in practice and in a crowd he would just go up and get it. And later, you know several years later, two or three years later, in meetings Bill would say, 'Joe, if you get stuck, just throw it in Jerry's direction.'"

Shumann said, "He was a guy who when you caught the ball, it was almost like he accelerated into the catch."

Clark said, "You and I maybe did 5,6 yards after a 10 yard catch. Jerry would take a 5 to 10 yard catch and make it a 15 yard gain and it was like, 'Oh, that's what Bill's talking about. I get it,' but I couldn't break tackles like Jerry Rice. He's just a special guy."