Randy Cross received big news on Thursday.
The former 49ers offensive lineman was named as one of 14 inductees into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame.
Cross, a 13-year veteran of the 49ers and member of the team’s 10-Year Club, enjoyed a very successful collegiate career at UCLA from 1973-75. Cross was named as a First-Team All-American in 1975, and led the Bruins to a Rose Bowl Championship that same year. Cross is the 13th UCLA alum to be inducted into the NFF College Hall of Fame.
After his successful college career concluded, Cross was selected in the second round of the 1976 NFL Draft by the 49ers. He played multiple offensive line positions for three Super Bowl Championship teams, and was also named to three Pro Bowls (1981, 82, 84) with the 49ers.
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Jerry Rice was the 14th member of the San Francisco 49ers to be named into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. Prior to the announcement of his selection, several former teammates and coaches spoke to us about Rice’s legacy and what they remembered most about the franchise’s greatest wide receiver.
FORMER 49ERS HEAD COACH GEORGE SEIFERT
“I don’t think there’s an argument that he’s the best wide receiver to play the game, but he might also be one of the best overall football players to have played the game. The thing that made him most special was that he had the God-given abilities and he went beyond those abilities because of the way that he worked and his dedication to perfecting his game. There was often talk about being the best you can be. He probably carried that to the height of the statement. The way he interacted with the players and coaches – he was somebody that took to coaching and wanted to be the best. That’s one of the reasons – or, that’s the main reason – I think he’s the great player that he was.”
FORMER 49ERS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR/QB COACH MIKE HOLMGREN
“Jerry was the most complete wide receiver ever to play the game. Talent, combined with an incredible work ethic, allowed him to be the best at his position.”
FORMER 49ERS QUARTERBACK JOE MONTANA
“Jerry’s the best to ever play the position. His numbers will probably never be reached. I watch the league all the time and there’s no one who compares to his consistency, and the first thing is catching the football. He was just so good, and then John Taylor came along and made it hard for teams to double Jerry. And I can tell you, it’s impossible to cover Jerry Rice one on one. Jerry got to the post more than anyone in history. I know if I was coaching and I was playing against the 49ers, I would tell my safety to play deep and stay there, and don’t let Jerry Rice get behind you. If he does, you can just keep on running to the locker room. Somehow he always got behind the safety. I don’t know how he did it, but I was happy he did.”
FORMER 49ERS QUARTERBACK STEVE YOUNG
“Jerry was a supreme route runner. The way he moved was somehow predictable and he really made it easy for me to throw the football. He was just so consistent in his motion and movement that I always knew where he was going to be. We all know that he worked hard, but it wasn’t just that he worked hard. There are a lot of hard workers who just peter out. Jerry was a hard worker for 40 years. He outworked everyone. He outworked free agents and even the guys who all they had was work ethic, he outworked them. And he was a star. He rose to every occasion. The bigger the moment the better he played. The playoff games, the Super Bowls, the Monday Night games. If there was a record to break, he would do it that day with the lights shining. His specialty was precision and you can’t cover precision. And people questioned his speed. There were plenty of fast guys who would slow down when they put the helmet and pads on, Jerry got faster in uniform. He carried the equipment better than anyone who has ever played. On the street he might not be the fastest, but on the field he was faster than everybody.”
FORMER 49ERS GUARD RANDY CROSS
“I happen to think that he’s one of the Top 5 players to ever play the game, regardless of the position. Besides the obvious physical attributes he was born with, he had the rare combination and ability to press his God-given talents even further than he probably knew they could be pressed. He was always in just unbelievable shape. He learned from a guy like Roger Craig what it meant to have an offseason, what it meant to put those workouts together where you ran the trails in the morning and you lifted in the mid-day, and then you ran sprints at Stanford in the afternoons. He and Roger were doing stuff like that well before most everybody else got around to it.”
FORMER 49ERS OFFENSIVE TACKLE STEVE WALLACE
“Living back in Atlanta, there are a lot of great NFL players in this area. When guys out here talk about the greatest player ever, it only lasts about a minute. Everybody says Jerry Rice, hands down. Having played with great quarterbacks in Joe Montana and Steve Young, this guy is on planet Pluto. He’s beyond the Pro Bowl and Hall of Fame. He’s the only guy that dominated a position so far beyond anyone else.”
FORMER 49ERS FULLBACK TOM RATHMAN
“He was a true pro in all senses. He was very dedicated to his craft and was a great team player. Obviously, we all know what he did as far as the numbers and everything. I think that all speaks for itself.”
FORMER 49ERS SAFETY RONNIE LOTT
“Jerry was so explosive off the line and had the ability to always finish plays like no one else before or after. One thing he had was an insatiable appetite to get an edge and be the best.”
FORMER 49ERS GUARD RAY BROWN
“Jerry was a perfectionist. He really wanted the football. I guess all receivers do. At the end of the day, he gave you the results. I think I’ve been real fortunate to play with some great players that are in this organization, like Steve Young and those guys who are in the Hall of Fame. You would just think, Steve is in there, so the guy he’s throwing a lot of balls to, he merits Hall of Fame consideration. I wish all those guys get in, especially ex-Niners.”
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