Nolan reiterates a no-go on Rice, Boston
Rice spoke with a Bay Area newspaper Thursday about wanting one more "go-around" with the 49ers and their fans before hanging up his cleats, a sentiment he has expressed before, and even to the team himself a few months ago. There are some who feel the 42-year-old owner of just about every significant receiving record in NFL history would have some value in a defined role on the team's young roster this year, but Nolan doesn't see it that way, and he remained resolute on the subject, giving the same answer Friday as he did when questions about a possible Rice comeback first surfaced months ago and again at various times since then. "I stand in the same place I've stood all along," Nolan said. "Jerry Rice is the best receiver ever to play the game. Certainly the best 49er, best ever. That goes without saying. Right now, as a 49er, we'd love to have him retire as a 49er, but our focus is going to be on our young players and developing those guys, and we don't want to do anything to take away from the guys we've got here on our roster." When it was brought to Nolan's attention that stance is hurting Rice's feelings, the Niners' new coach didn't bite. "I don't know what to say," Nolan responded. "Jerry has accomplished so much. He's been the greatest wide receiver ever. I'd feel pretty good about that if I was him." As Nolan has said before, Rice is welcome to sign a one-day contract with the team to retire as a 49er whenever he is ready to do so. Rice, still yearning to play a 21st NFL season, obviously isn't ready to do so. Rice said another NFL team has shown interest in signing him to compete for a roster berth this year, but at this point of his career, he's having a hard time seeing himself wearing any uniform other than San Francisco's, and wants to "say goodbye the right way." There are none of the same emotions involved with Boston. Bringing in the volatile but talented receiver, who has done his best NFL work under the direction of new 49ers receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, appeared to be a hot option for the Niners back in March when Nolan talked openly about the possibility of it happening. But after a personal meeting with Boston, Nolan cooled on the issue. Now, after selecting two prospects at wide receiver on the second day of the draft two weeks ago, Nolan has all but distanced himself from the possibility entirely. "I haven't closed the book, but it's just barely open," Nolan said. "I'll know a little bit more after June 1 after these minicamps, after (other team activities). It's not totally. I don't want to say it is. But as it goes further and further, it gets less likely." When asked if it was character issues that has pushed him away from signing Boston, Nolan said, "It's a combination of what I feel we already have on our football team. It's a combination of what I say and what I tell our football team I want it to look like and staying true to what I said I want it to look like. "I only know David (from) that one meeting we've had. I'm not going to say, ‘I got (Boston) nailed. I know who you are.' I want to make sure that if we do come to the point where I think David is someone I want around here, that I want to make damn sure that I am hitting the mark with what I've said. If I don't, then I have to do something about it. I don't have a problem with doing something about it, but I don't want to set myself up for anything. … We don't need to go there." Nolan spent more time talking Friday about receivers who won't be with the team in 2005 than receivers that are already there. "I like what I see out of those guys, (but) I'm basing that more out of the first minicamp we had (in April)," Nolan said. "It's really too early for me to say." But not too early to say who he doesn't want around.
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