The return of 42-year old Jerry Rice to Candlestick Park on Sunday was a reminder to San Francisco 49ers fans of the team's glory days, which ran from the 1980s to the mid-1990s.
The fact that Rice was wearing the off blue of the latest incarnation of the Seattle Seahawks' away uniform rather than red and gold, and that those same Seahawks pasted the Niners 42 to 27 was proof that those glory days are over--at least for the time being.
Quite A Ride
But it was quite a ride while it lasted: five Super Bowl trophies, countless players sent to the Pro Bowl, and an ongoing stream of players to the NFL Hall of Fame (five years after Rice himself retires, he'll be there).
One of the players who made an important contribution to the glory days--and who may very well end up in Canton himself--was Roger Craig, the Niners' chief running back from 1983 to 1990 (Craig would play three more seasons for the Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings). Drafted in the second round, the movie star-handsome Craig had quite a career while with the 49ers: three Super Bowl rings; four trips to the Pro Bowl; over 8000 yards gained on the ground, and a further 4000 more via pass receptions. That's a lot of yards! Perhaps his best season was 1988, when he was named National Football Conference's offensive player of the year by United Press International after rushing for 1,502 yards and catching 76 passes for 534 yards.
Great Football Storytelling
Having retired after the 1993 season, Craig now enjoys a career as the director of business development for Bay Area-based TIBCO Software. He's also written an enjoyable new book (with the help of professional journalist Matt Maiocco), titled Tales From The San Francisco 49ers Sideline, which collects his reminiscences of his teammates, former owner Eddie DeBartolo (whose deep pockets helped keep the dynasty afloat, but who was also quick to trade Craig after the team lost the 1990 NFC Championship to the New York Giants and Craig had a rare fumble late in the game) and Bill Walsh, the mastermind former head coach, whose legacy continues to this day, as at least six of today's current 32 NFL head coaches apprenticed under Walsh. (Walsh wrote the book's forward.)