Both Steve Young and Jerry Rice attended 49ers practice Monday but in vastly different attire.
While Young wore a light blue dress shirt and watched the session from the sideline, Rice donned red and gold cleats and black warmup gear, taped his ankles and put on pass-catching gloves.
After all, he wasn’t going to be a mere observer during a 49ers practice. Instead Rice, 54, warmed up alongside players less than half his age, caught passes during individual drills and ran shadow routes down the sideline when the team began 11-on-11 drills.
Rice even became entangled in one of the plays at the sideline.
“To have Jerry Rice out there just standing there in cleats — it had to be cool for the receivers just to see that,” safety Eric Reid said. “I mean it was cool for me just watching it. It think it’s huge.”
Both men are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and talked to players about the championship culture the 49ers once had and one the incoming regime wants to recapture.
Young told a story about coming into the practice facility one day after a 49ers Super Bowl parade and finding Rice running routs by himself on a practice field.
“He asked him what he was doing and (Rice) was like, ‘Man, somebody’s coming to get my job this year,'” Reid recounted. “I mean, he was fresh off a Super Bowl win — won the Super Bowl MVP, I think it was — and he’s training for the next one. That’s why he was the greatest.”
Running back Matt Breida was six years from being born when Rice won the Super Bowl MVP in 1989. Still, he said he knew Young and Rice from the ends of their careers.
“I watched those guys growing up and I aspired to be those guys,” Breida said.
Injuries mount — The 49ers waived rookie Chanceller James after he suffered an ACL tear in Friday’s preseason game. The team plans to re-sign the undrafted strong safety if, as expected, he passes through waivers.
James joined the team after a strong tryout during a May rookie camp. He was having a strong training camp and had been lining up as the second-string strong safety.
The 49ers also practiced without DeForest Buckner (ankle) and Ronald Blair (groin) while two other defensive linemen, defensive end Aaron Lynch and nose tackle Earl Mitchell, left practice with what appeared to be minor injuries.
Ward improving — Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said Jimmie Ward had a “promising” workout Sunday as he attempts to come back from a hamstring injury. Ward, however, has missed all 12 practices of training camp, including Monday’s session.
Rookie Lorenzo Jerome practiced with the first-team defense and came up with an interception. Third-string safety Adrian Colbert had two interceptions.
Jaquiski Tartt practiced in full after suffering a rib issue early in training camp. He practiced with the second-team defense at strong safety. Saleh said Tartt was being eased back into practice after his long layoff.