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Rice a little emotional in return to Candlestick

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Jerry Rice stopped for a moment before disappearing into the stadium tunnel and slapped hands with a bunch of his fans some in Seahawks jerseys, others wearing his old 49ers uniform, and even a couple in the Raiders' Silver and Black.

Rice's illustrious career came full circle Sunday when he returned to Candlestick Park with Seattle and helped his new team win 42-27 against San Francisco, the franchise that drafted him in the first round 19{ years ago out of Mississippi Valley State.

The 42-year-old Rice was traded to the Seahawks by the Oakland Raiders last month after he complained for weeks about lack of playing time. He's still not a major factor in Seattle's offense, but is getting more chances under coach Mike Holmgren, his former offensive coordinator with the Niners.

After making his way through dozens of cameras on the field and getting a handful of hugs from friends, Rice walked out of this place for perhaps the final time. This is his 20th NFL season and he's changed his mind a few times on whether he'll return next year.

I really did (think about that),'' he said.When the last few seconds wound down, I said to myself, 'This might be my last time here.' It was unbelievable.''

Rice, whose NFL-record receptions streak ended at 274 games in Week 2 against Buffalo, had one catch for five yards. He joked about it afterward, but acknowledged he wanted to do more _ especially in this game, in front of all his fans.

Oh yeah, my little hitch, when I tried to put a move on,'' he said, chuckling.But these defenses are so fast now. Not that I'm a little slower, but these defenses are a little faster.''

His status for the game was in question until late in the week because of an ankle injury.

It was real tough,'' he said of not playing much.Every time coach called out a formation I made a step toward the field. I really wanted to get out there. I felt all week long after I fought my way through my injury that I'd get the opportunity to play.''

Rice is the NFL's career leader in catches and touchdowns and the only receiver to play after age 40. And he has another important role aside from making catches: as a teacher.

I'm glad he's with me,'' Holmgren said.In some ways, he's doing me a favor by coming to Seattle. He's helping our young guys, and he's doing what he can on the field. I'm grateful to him.''

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