SAN FRANCISCO (AP)
— Jerry Rice didn't plan on making a spectacular catch or scoring a game-winning
touchdown in his latest — maybe his last — game on Candlestick Point.
Simply taking the field in a black
jersey was difficult enough.
Rice, who set every significant NFL
receiving record in 16 seasons with the 49ers, returned to 3Com Park on
Sunday, starting for the Oakland Raiders in a 20-17 exhibition loss to
"It was difficult to come back here,"
Rice said. "I stayed up all night, just pacing around. It felt good just
coming back here and basically let the fans know that I really appreciate
what they have done for me, my entire career.
"It's a day I was looking forward
to getting over."
Rice caught just one pass and played
only three series, but he still was the center of attention in the Battle
of the Bay.
Jonas Lewis rushed for an 8-yard
TD with 13:11 left, and the 49ers' defense stopped the Raiders three times
in the final minutes to seal the victory.
Not ready to retire at 38, Rice signed
a two-year contract with the Raiders after the salary cap-strapped 49ers
released him in June. His brief appearance highlighted an exciting game
between the sometimes bitter rivals.
"He did a lot of great things when
he was here, but Jerry Rice is gone," said Terrell Owens, who caught a
38-yard touchdown pass to upstage his mentor one more time. "That might
not be what we want, but that's the way it is. I just thought the whole
atmosphere was tremendous out here. I was having so much fun."
Looking sharp but strange in the
Raiders' silver and black, Rice took the field about 45 minutes before
game time, jogging out of the visitors' tunnel behind Tim Brown to scattered
cheers from the half-full stands.
"They asked me, 'Why don't you lead
the guys?"' Rice said. "I said, 'No, I'll probably go the wrong way."'
He began warmup drills near the visitors'
sideline, standing about 10 feet from smiling Raiders owner Al Davis while
catching and throwing some soft passes.
Rice chatted with Jeff Garcia and
Owens, who ran over to say hello. Later, Rice jogged across the field to
hug San Francisco coach Steve Mariucci. Rice has said in recent months
that he never felt comfortable playing for Mariucci, but both were all
smiles when they met as opponents.
"We knew there was going to be a
different feeling on the field than 49ers fans are used to seeing," Garcia
said. "Luckily, that was taken care of early in the game. Jerry will always
be close to a lot of us."
On the Raiders' fifth play from scrimmage,
Rice caught a 23-yard slant from Rich Gannon — a vintage Rice reception
from an unfamiliar quarterback.
Rice played Oakland's first three
series, but the Raiders didn't throw to him again. He spent most of the
rest of the game standing at the end of the Raiders' sideline, wearing
a jacket and a backward silver cap.
"We're going to have a regular-season
game against the 49ers next year. The nightmare goes on," Rice said with
Though Rice's return to 3Com Park
was the most noteworthy part of the afternoon, fans didn't need any additional
motivation to get excited for the meeting between their teams. Rice replica
jerseys - both in black and garnet - dotted the packed stadium.
Mondriel Fulcher caught two touchdown
passes for the Raiders (2-1), who couldn't score after rookie quarterback
Marques Tuiasosopo took over for Bobby Hoying in the second half.
After Lewis' scoring run with 13:11
left put the 49ers (1-1) ahead, San Francisco's young defense stopped the
Raiders' final three drives.
Stephen Fisher intercepted a pass
by Tuiasosopo at midfield with 8:56 left, Daniel Greer sacked Tuiasosopo
on fourth down with 3:06 to play, and Jabari Jackson fumbled away a reception
with 1:53 to play.
While one former 49ers star likely
bid farewell to the team, Garrison Hearst took another step in his remarkable
comeback from a severely broken leg. After playing last week in San Diego
for the first time since January 1999, Hearst looked strong and durable
in six early carries for 27 yards against the Raiders.
"I feel much more sharp than I did
last week," Hearst said. "I also feel like I read the plays better. Each
game, I get more comfortable."
Garcia looked good in his two series,
going 5-of-7 for 78 yards - but the 49ers got a huge scare late in the
first quarter, when blitzing Raiders safety Marquez Pope flattened him
at the goal line with a vicious hit.
Luckily for the 49ers, their quarterback
popped up unhurt.
"I'm pleased with the way Garrison
ran the football and the way the offensive line blocked," Garcia said.
"I thought they did a great job of opening some holes, and they gave me
some good protection."
Owens, Rice's protege who set an
NFL record with 20 catches in Rice's final home game with the 49ers last
December, made a nice scoring catch on a pass from Garcia in the first
Rich Gannon was 8-of-11 for 60 yards
and a score for the Raiders. Hoying led two scoring drives while going
7-of-14 for 106 yards.
Tim Rattay drove the 49ers 65 yards
over the final 1:55 before halftime, ending with Jose Cortez's 37-yard
field goal — the second of the half for the frontrunner to win San Francisco's