49ers 17, Bears 0
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ It was Jerry Rice’s day and Terrell Owens’ show.
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.
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.
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.
The Bears, behind Cade McNown, never got their offense past midfield. They managed just 104 yards of total offense and eight first downs.
It was the second shutout of the season for the Bears, who managed just 2.1 yards per play.
McNown, returning from a shoulder injury, finished 9-of-29 for 73 yards and an interception.
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 missed a 33-yard attempt early in the second quarter, but hit the 28-yarder just before halftime to put the 49ers ahead 10-0.
Garcia hit Owens with a 27-yard scoring pass midway through the third quarter.
It was Garcia’s sixth 300-plus-yards 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.