Jerry Rice can't wait for Sunday. The 49ers legend is all-in on San Francisco's revenge tour, and it begins at an empty Levi's Stadium this week against the Arizona Cardinals.
"I'm looking forward to a great game coming up Sunday," Rice said Monday morning on 95.7 The Game's "The Morning Show." "I want to see that intensity, I want to see that fire out there on the football field and I want to see the San Francisco 49ers really make a statement on opening day.
"If they can do that, I think it's gonna send a message to not only the teams in their division but other teams, too."
The 49ers won't have the fans on their side, as nobody will be allowed inside the stadium due to COVID-19 concerns. That in itself will be an obstacle. But the biggest challenge will be the Cardinals themselves.
Perhaps no other team in the NFL improved more than the Cardinals this offseason. Murray now has a star receiver after Arizona acquired DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans, and Isaiah Simmons, Arizona's first-round draft pick, could be the perfect hybrid linebacker to slow down 49ers tight end George Kittle. This team could go from the No. 1 pick two years ago to a possible playoff contender in 2020.
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Hall of Fame executive Gil Brandt believes the NFC West is the toughest division in the NFL, and NBC Sports' Peter King picked the Seattle Seahawks to outlast the 49ers in the division. The 49ers can't afford to drop a dud and lose to a division opponent right away.
Rice wants his 49ers to make a statement to the entire league. That needs to begin Sunday against the Cardinals, which could give the Niners momentum to have yet another strong start to the season.