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SANTA CLARA – When Jerry Rice Jr. reported for his tryout during 49ers’ three-day rookie camp, he was offered a familiar jersey number.
“They asked if I wanted 80, I said, ‘No, not right now,’” he said on Friday. “I’m my own individual. Obviously, I have his DNA, too. In the end, I am Rice Jr. and not Rice Sr.”
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The 49ers' retired Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice's No. 80 in 2010. The holder of every significant NFL receiving record, Rice played for the 49ers from 1985 to 2000.
Rice Jr. was one of 15 players who will take part as a tryout. Last weekend, he participated in the Baltimore Ravens’ rookie camp. He was not signed to a contract, which allowed him to come back to the Bay Area to participate in the tryout with the the 49ers.
“(In) Baltimore, I got my feet wet, and now I’m getting accustomed to the whole NFL process,” Rice Jr. said. “Coming in here is a little easier. I’m catching on a little faster.”
Rice Jr. (5 foot 11, 185 pounds) finished his college career at UNLV after spending three seasons at UCLA, where he caught nine passes in three seasons as a walk-on. In his one season at UNLV, Rice Jr. caught 11 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown.
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Rice Jr., the son of one of the game’s most celebrated workers, said he hopes to catch the 49ers’ eye with his own work ethic and attention to detail. And, yes, Rice Jr. said he has run “The Hill” in an open space in Redwood City made famous by his father and former 49ers running back Roger Craig as part of their training rituals.
“I think now, I’d be able catch him,” he said.
Rice Jr., who is considered a long shot to earn a coveted camp invitation on any NFL 90-man roster, said he believes he has room for improvement.
“I’m a developmental guy,” he said. “Everybody wants to see the finished product right now, but you have to make the finished product. I’m always willing to do that.”
Added Rice Jr.: "My dad just wants me to make it anywhere. More importantly, do the best I can with my ability, so if it doesn’t work out, I’m able to walk away and have no regrets."
Rice Jr. also took part in the 49ers' local pro day April 25 at the team's practice facility. Coach Jim Harbaugh commented on Rice before the players got onto the practice field Friday afternoon.
“He did a great job with his assignments in our first glimpse there,” Harbaugh said. “And (I’m) excited to watch him and all the guys compete really. This is as exciting as I get. It’s a great thrill to walk out here on the practice field anytime, but especially this time of the year when you have these youngsters.
“It’s like a horse race. They’re all starting from the gate and they’re surging out and running and competing. It gets me more excited than I can tell you. This is really fun to watch. They’re receptive to learning. They’re bright eyed. They have an opportunity in front of them that they just don’t want to let get away. And, I can’t blame them a bit for it, and it really helps the competition and the practices.”