ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) _ When Jerry Rice began his career with San Francisco 19 years ago, the 49ers had just won their second Super Bowl.
There was a locker-room mentality that they'd play for the title every year. Everyone believed that, and San Francisco reached the championship game again in 1988, '89 and 1994 _ winning rings each time.
Rice isn't sensing that same urgency in Oakland.
What I'm saying is, when you have so many new guys, a team has a tendency to say, 'Well, we're a work in progress. It might take, you know, another year. It might be two years,' he said Wednesday as the Raiders (2-2) prepared to play at Indianapolis on Sunday.
``I walked into a situation like that (in San Francisco), and I was like, 'We're going back to a Super Bowl.' That's the way I felt. We had to rebuild. We had new guys coming in and stuff like that, but we felt the urgency to win right now, and that was it.''
While Raiders owner Al Davis refuses to call this a rebuilding season, Oakland has a new coach in Norv Turner, a handful of new faces in key positions, and a new defense. The Raiders are trying to rebound from a 4-12 season, the worst collapse by a team that made the Super Bowl the previous year.
Turner has repeatedly said he values Rice, but has also made it known several different receivers will make plays in this offense.
The frustrating thing when you look at it is there's situations, there's opportunities, and the ball has been thrown his way. It's just sometimes you're not in the sync you want to be,'' Turner said.It seems like that's the way it's been, because there have been situations where he could have had production. And obviously we're trying to play other guys also.''
It's clear that Rice, who turns 42 next week, is quickly becoming frustrated with his diminishing role. He admits it's affecting him.
Rice worked just as hard this offseason as he has his entire career, and he still enjoys the routine of the NFL, even down to pulling on his uniform a certain way on Sundays. He says he tries to learn something new each season.
His record streak of 274 straight games with a catch ended in the second game of the season, a 13-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Last Sunday in Houston, Rice didn't make a catch until hauling in an 18-yard pass from Kerry Collins with 2:33 left on a square-in route.
By the time Rice made his catch, Collins had completed 20 passes to nine other receivers.
Rice wishes there were fewer primary options in the Raiders' deep receiving corps, and that would make the offense more effective because the quarterback could focus on them.
He has five catches for 67 yards and no touchdowns this season _ fewer than Jerry Porter (14), Ronald Curry (12), Doug Jolley (8), J.R. Redmond (7), Doug Gabriel (6), and even third-string running back Amos Zereoue (6).
Rice is on pace for 20 catches over the 16-game season. The last time he had that few was when he caught seven passes in 1997 with the 49ers, but he missed 14 games with a knee injury.
Rice had three others thrown his way Sunday, and made a one-handed catch in Oakland's first drive, but his foot was out of bounds.
It's hard. It's frustrating. You're out there running, and all you can do is just keep doing what you're doing,'' he said.And like I said, I know what I'm capable of. It's just that I'm in a situation where it's not for a 20-year vet that's been around for a long time. It's a lot of young guys that want to get involved. What are you going to do? Are you going to turn your back on your team and just say, 'Hey, look, forget it?' No, I'm not going to do that. I'm going continue to fight, and just do what I can.''
Rice said in the offseason this would probably be his final season, but has since backed off the statement and left open the possibility of a 21st year.
Oh, I know I don't have many more opportunities,'' he said, laughing.Hey, that's why the clock is ticking.''