Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown piqued the interest of many of his Instagram followers on Sunday night when he posted a photo to his story of a FaceTime chat with former San Francisco 49ers great Jerry Rice.
The Hall of Famer now has a distinct impression that Brown would like to join the 49ers.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. He wants to come here really bad,” Rice said Monday in an interview on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco.
“He’s talking about running the hill with me – doing all that and just working out and just picking my brain. I don’t know if it’s going to happen because it’s going to be up to (49ers coach) Kyle Shanahan and also (general manager) John Lynch, but I’m all for it if they want him to come on board.”
Brown’s future with the Steelers is uncertain after team owner Art Rooney II told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week the seven-time Pro Bowl selection’s return to the organization would be “hard to envision.” He also said that beyond releasing Brown, “all options are on the table” for the team in a potential move.
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The wide receiver was made inactive for the Week 17 finale against the Cincinnati Bengals after he skipped practices and multiple other team functions throughout the week. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger denied that he had a “blowout” with Brown that preceded the four-time all-pro’s absences, as multiple reports indicated, Mike Tomlin said he was “disappointed” by his star player’s decisions and lack of communication.
Despite how Pittsburgh’s season ended, Rice said he had no concerns about how Brown might fit with the 49ers.
“This guy, man, he’s a totally, complete team player,” Rice said. “I don’t know what happened in Pittsburgh, but I know that this guy, if he comes here to San Francisco, he’s going to do everything possible to help this team to win.”
Brown had an NFL-high 15 touchdown catches in 2018 and recorded 104 receptions for 1,297 yards. Pittsburgh would be hit with $21.12 million in dead salary-cap space by moving him, but the team would then be freed of his $22.165 million salary for 2019. He is set to earn a $2.5 million roster bonus on March 17, four days after the league year begins.
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.