SAN FRANCISCO — This should have been a big night for wide receiver Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers.
The rookie from Mississippi Valley State set a team record as he caught 10 passes for 241 yards against the Rams, breaking the mark previously held by Dave Parks, who had a 231-yard receiving performance against the Baltimore Colts in 1965.
"The most important thing is to come out with a victory," Rice said.
The 49ers didn't to that.
Still, the night had to be gratifying to Rice, the team's No. 1 pick last year. But early in the season, Rice was averaging about one drop per game and was feeling the heat.
"They (49er coaches) know what I'm capable of now," Rice said. "I would like to thank them for having patience."
Rice's biggest catch of the night went for 66 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter.
Rice, surprisingly, was drawing only single coverage most of the night. Most of the Rams' double coverage focused on Dwight Clark.
"I knew they were going to double-up on Clark," Rice said. "That left me open a lot. When they roll up on Clark, I'm open. They can't double cover both of us."
As for the criticism, Rice said: "I think if a fan comes out here and pays money, he should see the best. Unfortunately, I was not decisive about the offense. We had so many adjustments. The last five games, I've felt more comfortable."
Last week, after the New Orleans Saints disposed of the Rams, 29-3, guard Dennis Harrah said, "We're in first place and we stink."
Following Monday's victory, Harrah was less critical and amended the statement.
"We're in first place and we're getting better," he said.
Henry Ellard's 39-yard touchdown reception midway through the fourth period, the one that was tipped by cornerback Dwight Hicks after a collision with teammate Ronnie Lott, was his first ever by deflection.
"Somehow, I always dreamed about it," he said. "Hicks had a good shot at it. Then I saw Lott come over (from his free safety position). I more or less kind of stepped back and waited."