USC Football: Brenden Rice’s Connections with 49ers Run Deeper Than Family Ties

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By now every football fan knows that Jerry Rice has a son, Brenden Rice, who played wide receiver for USC football and is now in the process of preparing for the draft. If you are a football fan you also know that Jerry Rice played for the San Francisco 49ers.

Brenden Rice NFL Draft Profile

During his NFL Combine, Brenden confirmed that he had had a formal meeting with that very team. But that isn’t the only connection with the Bay Area football club. Rice grew up in Chandler Arizona, with current 49ers quarterback, Brock Purdy. Purdy is about two years older than Rice and the two went to high schools that are only 6.1 miles from each other. The two did play against each other in Purdy’s senior season. Purdy got the better of Rice in that game. Purdy threw for 383 yards and three touchdowns. While Rice caught one pass for 15 yards in a losing effort, Purdy’s Perry Panthers beat Hamilton High 65-63.

Rice did answer a question about what sets him apart from his father, “Size and speed.” Brenden responded, “We joke all the time that I’m bigger and faster than him.”

Brenden Rice
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USC Football: Brenden Rice on Brock Purdy

But the 6’2, 212 lbs wide receiver doesn’t hold a grudge against Purdy saying “..competing with [Brock] back in the day, throwing with him. It’s kind of a nostalgic moment.”

In fact, Purdy has been an inspiration for Rice. He commented on Purdy being picked last in the 2022 draft,

“It doesn’t matter where you get drafted. It doesn’t matter when your number is called. He’s called Mr. Irrelevant, and he made the most of his opportunity, and that’s all that matters. I just know that he’s going to put his best foot forward each day in and day out.” 

NCAA Football: UCLA at Southern California
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In that vein, Rice says that’s the kind of mentality that sets him apart from his peers.

“My work ethic, I’m not going to allow myself to be outworked. No matter where I go, they’re going to get a dog. When it’s all said and done, I hope to hold my head tall.”

Rice echoed that sentiment about Purdy,

“[Purdy] went out there and competed. That’s who he has always been. He’s gone and competed against whoever. Doesn’t matter the opportunity, he’s going to make the most of it, and that’s the type of person you want around the team. That can duplicate and multiply.” 

Rice’s Projection and 49ers Picks Align

Rice’s mock draft consensus has him going late in the third round. The 49ers have two picks in that precinct of the draft, picks 94 and 98. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has him at #97 in his Draft Top 100.

Rice has been a steady riser throughout 2023’s USC football season and at the Senior Bowl. He may go higher if he has a positive NFL Combine. Wide receiver drills start at 10 am PST on Saturday, March 2nd.

The 49ers have two Trojans currently on their roster, Talanoa Hufanga and Drake Jackson. USC great Ronnie Lott also played much of his career there.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Southern California
Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports