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Jerry Rice talks Jim Harbaugh and 49ers' red zone woes

Hall of Famer and former San Francisco 49er

Hall of Famer and former San Francisco 49er Jerry Rice catches passes prior to the start of agame between the 49ers and Atlanta Falcons at Candlestick Park on December 23, 2013. Credit: Getty

San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice believes coach Jim Harbaugh's act is starting to wear thin, in part because Harbaugh's "collegiate mentality" is not suited to the pro game.

"I have heard some complaints from some players that he likes to try to coach with the collegiate mentality, and that's just not going to work in the NFL," said Rice, who was in New York on Tuesday to promote a MetLife financial planning program.

Rice doesn't know whether Harbaugh will continue to coach the 49ers beyond this season, but the NFL's all-time leading receiver suggested the coach should concentrate on addressing the myriad issues affecting the 49ers, who are 4-4 and in third place in the NFC West behind Arizona and defending champion Seattle.

"Who knows what's going to happen with Jim Harbaugh?" Rice said. "[Next year] is up for grabs. I don't know if he wants to try to go to be a college coach or go for the big payday [in the NFL]. I think the most important thing for Jim Harbaugh to do right now is to turn this around and make it a positive and get that team believing in themselves again."

Rice said the 49ers' biggest problems are in the red zone.

"They can't score once they get in the red zone, and they're really not generating that many points," Rice said. "Eventually, when you let an opponent linger around like that, they're going to come back and bite you."

The 49ers are coming off a 13-10 home loss to the Rams, as quarterback Colin Kaepernick fumbled near the goal line with a chance to win the game in the final seconds.

"The Rams should never have been in that ballgame," Rice said. "It should never have come down to that last play. They need to be more productive in the red zone and score touchdowns instead of kicking field goals."

San Francisco is averaging 21 points per game, ninth lowest in the NFL through Week 9, and are tied for second worst with three rushing touchdowns.

Rice, who had been highly critical of the 49ers for allowing defensive lineman Ray McDonald to continue playing despite his arrest in August on domestic violence charges, said he stands by his opinion despite the fact McDonald has not been charged with any crime.

"I have a no-tolerance policy when it comes to domestic violence," Rice said. "Any time a guy is in question, you need to eliminate that. Now, is that unfair to the individual? It might be. That's why I think [the 49ers] should have addressed that [by sitting McDonald]. They decided not to."

Rice believes this year's Cardinals, who lead the NFC West with a 7-1 record after beating Dallas on Sunday, are no fluke. In fact, he likes the Cardinals to win the Super Bowl.

"The AFC is crazy, but I see Pittsburgh making a move," he said. "But I have to go with Arizona in the NFC. I'm a West Coast guy. I think the Cardinals will win the Super Bowl."

Rice recently partnered with MetLife to help raise awareness about financial planning issues. He finds it especially important because of the frequent examples he sees of former NFL players not preparing adequately for their post-athletic careers.

"You have so many bad situations that you hear about," said Rice, who starred for the 49ers from 1985-2000, and then played with the Raiders and Seahawks before retiring in 2004. He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2010 and has the most career receptions (1,549), yards (22,895) and 1,000-yard seasons (14) in NFL history. "But when I think about investments, it's about making smart decisions. When you think about defense, you think about life insurance, protecting your assets, doing things that will put you in a better position where you can step away from the game and be comfortable after you're done playing.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for me," he said. "I've really taken a page from professional football. I know how to win football games. It's all about the coaching and it's all about the advisers coming up with a good strategy that you can use."

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