Sunday, Dec. 17 4:05pm ET
Owens' 20 catches break two records

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- As Jerry Rice said goodbye, Terrell Owens accepted his legacy.

Owens caught an NFL-record 20 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown as San Francisco shut out the lifeless Chicago Bears 17-0 Sunday in what could be Rice's last game with 49ers for the hometown fans.

Terrell Owens
One of Terrell Owens' 20 receptions included a 27-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter Sunday.

Owens' 20 catches surpassed Tom Fears' record 18 with the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 3, 1950, against Green Bay. Owens also broke Rice's franchise record of 16 receptions set against the Los Angeles Rams in 1994.

"What I did by no means overshadows No. 80," Owens said about his mentor. "He's been a big part of my success."

With tears in his eyes after the game, Rice passed the torch to Owens.

"Records are meant to be broken," Rice said. "I feel T.O. is going to carry on the tradition."

San Francisco (6-9) has won four of its last five games, but the 49ers already have clinched a second consecutive losing season for the first time since 1979-80.

Jeff Garcia was 36-of-44 for 402 yards and two touchdowns. Greg Clark caught a short scoring pass on the 49ers' first drive, and Owens added a 27-yard scoring catch in the third quarter. Wade Richey had a 28-yard field goal.

Question on the Bears: How patient should Chicago be with Cade McNown?
Donahoe: Anytime that you decide to go with a young quarterback like McNown, it will try the patience of the coach and the fans. Obviously the Bears saw some significant things in McNown to draft him as high as they did. He has struggled this season with injuries and an offense that has at times lacked an identity. When an offense struggles, the quarterback usually gets the brunt of the blame, even though it is not totally his fault. If the Bears' coaching staff and management believes McNown has the potential to develop into a top-flight NFL quarterback, they have no choice but to remain patient with him.

Question on the 49ers: Should there be a salary-cap change to keep vets like Jerry Rice?
Donahoe: The salary-cap situation is unfortunate in a lot ways, in particular when it comes to keeping veteran players like Rice. It is difficult to imagine Rice playing in a different uniform, but that is the scenario that currently exists. The 49ers have made it clear that he will not be on their roster next year. Unless Rice decides to retire, he will be playing for another team. It would be encouraging if the league and the players association could protect veterans like Rice who desire to finish their careers with the teams that drafted them. For now, it appears that nothing like this is on the horizon, and it's unfortunate for the fans.

Tom Donahoe,'s NFL analyst, was formerly the Steelers' director of football operations.

The Bears (4-11) never got their offense past midfield. They managed just 104 yards of total offense, averaging just 2.1 yards per play, and eight first downs.

Quarterback Cade McNown, returning from a shoulder injury, finished 9-of-29 for 73 yards and an interception.

"There is not a whole lot to say after that one," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. "The defense played hard, but we left them out on the field the entire game."

With neither the 49ers nor the Bears headed to the playoffs, the game was merely a footnote to the drama surrounding the NFL's most prolific pass receiver.

Sunday was all about Rice: from his daughter's rendition of the national anthem, to the video scoreboard tributes throughout the game, to the frequent "Jerry! Jerry!" chant of the crowd. He finished with seven catches for 74 yards.

On the 49ers' first play, Garcia hit Rice with a 25-yard completion, and the fans offered a standing ovation. San Francisco went on to score on the drive with Garcia's 1-yard pass to Clark.

Richey's 28-yarder just before halftime put the 49ers ahead 10-0.

Garcia hit Owens with a 27-yard scoring pass midway through the third quarter.

When he broke the record in the final quarter, the first person to greet Owens on the sidelines was Rice.

"You know, during the game, it just didn't seem like he had 20 catches," Chicago veteran cornerback Thomas Smith said.

Even Owens, who was named to the Pro Bowl this week, was stunned about breaking a 50-year-old record.

"It hasn't hit me yet," he said. "The most important thin g is to give all the credit to Jerry. This is Jerry's day. It's not about Terrell."

It was Garcia's sixth 300-yard passing game this season.

McNown was making his first start since he separated his shoulder six weeks ago. He was 1-7 as the Bears' starter before his injury as the Bears' matched their worst start in franchise history.

The 1999 draft pick out of UCLA was 5-of-11 for 38 yards in the Bears' dismal first half. Chicago had just 56 yards of total offense and three first downs before halftime -- and they were just as ineffective in the second.

Although Rice's fate with the 49ers is still uncertain, it is unlikely the team can afford his $4.2 million salary next season. San Francisco is already $1 million over the salary cap for 2001.

Rice, 38, says he is not ready for retirement. The fans stuck around after the game, chanting his name, as he took a victory lap around the field.

"I still have to pinch myself at times, because this is what I love. I love doing this," he said. "And it's going to be hard for me to move on."

Game notes
The Bears have been shut out twice this season. ... McNown had not played since Oct. 22 against Pittsburgh. .... Richey missed a 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter after vowing last month that he would not miss a kick for the rest of the season. ... San Francisco receiver Tai Streets broke his right tibia while helping to make a tackle on kickoff coverage in the second quarter. He was expected to be hospitalized overnight, and coach Steve Mariucci said he would have surgery this week. ... In five career games against the Bears, Rice has caught 31 passes for 400 yards and seven touchdowns. ... Owens' 283 yards ranked him eighth best in the NFL for a single game.


Chicago Clubhouse

San Francisco Clubhouse

Rice's likely swan song as Niner ends on winning note

Ratto: Time for T.O., baby!

 Jerry Rice reflects on a long career with the 49ers and talks about his future.
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 Terrell Owens talks about his record-breaking day in San Francisco.
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 Jerry Rice says farewell to the 49er fans.
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 Terrell Owens unintentionallly steals the spotlight from Jerry Rice on his teammate's last day at the 'Stick.
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 Gary Plummer rants about the Chicago Bears' decision to try and shut down Jerry Rice.
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 Former teammate and current 49ers broadcaster Gary Plummer on Jerry Rice's place in NFL history.
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 John Schrader of KNBR Radio on why Jerry Rice has to leave and where he may go.
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 Tony Kornheiser rants about Jerry Rice's forced exit from San Francisco.
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Cade McNown Official Site

Terrell Owens Official Site