Jim Brown welcomed the idea of Jerry Rice breaking his all-time touchdown record on Sept. 5, 1994.
Tim Brown was another story.
The Raiders receiver watched in disbelief as Rice, thought to be finished for the night, trotted back onto the field with his Hall of Fame quarterback in tow and one purpose in mind.
"I remember looking at the Raiders bench and Tim Brown, he was halfway on the field,'' Rice recalled, smiling wide. "He was giving me that stare down, like, 'Jerry, you know you're not going to do this to us on Monday Night.' "
Oh, yes, he was.
With all the subtlety of Babe Ruth's called shot, Rice and quarterback Steve Young gave the 68,032 fans -- and a national television audience -- what they came for: a touchdown pass to Rice for career touchdown No. 127.
That broke the record established by Jim Brown, the Cleveland Browns running back, nearly 30 years earlier. The milestone moment ranks No. 6 in our countdown of the 49ers' most unforgettable moments at Candlestick Park.
Besides raising the bar, Rice's catch also raised a few eyebrows. Tim Brown (no relation) wasn't the only person taken aback that Rice and Young kept airing it out in the late stages of a blowout (the 49ers led 37-14 at the time).
The prevailing explanation over the years is that receiver and quarterback lobbied then-coach George Seifert for the opportunity to set football's most hallowed record on the prime-time stage in the season opener
But it's not true, according to the man who ought to know.
"The fellas upstairs, (offensive coordinator) Mike Shanahan and the other coaches, definitely wanted Jerry to go in and take another crack at it," Seifert recalled. "I don't know if lobbying is the right term, because I was the head coach and I could kind of do it how I wanted. After talking with a few people, that was my decision. That's exactly how it happened."
Considering Shanahan's rancorous history with late Raiders owner Al Davis, he might have pushed hard. But Seifert said he had no second thoughts whatsoever. He understood the significance of the moment and the prime-time spectacle of it and, yes, the opponent.
"I had great respect for the Raiders and all they'd accomplished in their history," he said. "But at the same time, it is a rivalry. You might not do that to another team at the end of the game."
The 49ers had pounded the Raiders from the outset, jumping to a quick 14-0 lead, one of the touchdowns coming on a 69-yard bomb to Rice from Young. "When Rice scored on a 23-yard reverse with 12:15 to play -- that was the touchdown that brought him even with Jim Brown -- the score was 37-14.
Rice thought that would be it, that with the blowout secured, there was no way Seifert would run up the score just to achieve a record, even one as lofty as Jim Brown's. He took a seat next to Young.
"So we're sitting on bench and we're thinking, 'OK, it's not going to happen here. Maybe next ballgame,' " Rice recalled. "And then (Seifert) walks down the bench and says, 'I'm going to give you a chance to do it tonight.' "
On their first set of downs, Young didn't even throw the ball to Rice. And with less than five minutes to play, and the Raiders holding the ball, it didn't look good.
But Raiders quarterback Jeff Hostetler fumbled at his own 38, and as the 49ers took over on offense, everybody in the stadium sensed what was coming -- including the opponents.
The 49ers went for broke on the first play. Young hung in against a stiff rush and lofted the ball down the middle of the field just short of the end zone. Rice soared up between defenders, made the catch and fell into the end zone. He then stood up with arms extended to celebrate the feat.
"On the snap of the ball, everybody knew where the ball was going," Rice said. "I'm running down the field, and everything that Bill Walsh had taught me, coached me, came into the equation -- catching the ball at the highest peak. Not waiting for the football. Attacking the ball. Then fighting for the ball to bring it down."
Rice needed to do all of those things because it wasn't the perfect pass from Young, who got clobbered as soon as it was released.
"I'm embarrassed that it was a little short," Young said that night. "But maybe that's the way it should be."
Seifert agreed, noting, "The great thing about that play is that he achieved the record on a spectacular catch and he was well covered. It was not a gimme, by any means. It was a great, great play."
Rice would continue to break his own record -- 81 times on his way to 208 career touchdowns. He even repaid the Raiders for their trouble, scoring 18 touchdowns for them over four seasons and helping them reach a Super Bowl.
In the 19 years that have passed since that historic Monday night at Candlestick, Brown's touchdown record has taken a beating. Eight other players have surpassed it, but Rice took it out of reach. He still cherishes the record -- because of the man who held it before him.
"Every time I see him," Rice said, "I still say, 'Man, you're the greatest football player to ever play the game.' "
Mercury News staff writer Daniel Brown contributed to this report. Follow Carl Steward on Twitter at twitter.com/stewardsfolly.
In honor of the 49ers' final season at Candlestick Park, we count down the team's Most Unforgettable Moments there. Stories will run until Dec. 23, the last regular-season game at the place the 49ers have called home since 1971. The 10 Most Unforgettable Moments -- among them a few that 49ers fans can't forget, no matter how hard they try -- were voted on by our sports staff. You can vote at mercurynews.com/49ers. The fan vote will be revealed before the final game.
The NFL's career touchdown leaders when Jerry Rice broke Jim Brown's record.
Rank Player TDs
"1. Jerry Rice 127
"2. Jim Brown 126
"3. Walter Payton 125
"4. John Riggins 116
"5. Marcus Allen 114
"6. Lenny Moore 113
"7. Don Hutson 105
"8. Steve Largent 101
"9. Franco Harris 100
10. Eric Dickerson 96
The NFL's career touchdown leaders as they stand today
Rank Player TDs
"1. Jerry Rice 208
"2. Emmitt Smith 175
"3. LaDanian Tomlinson 162
"4. Randy Moss 157
"5. Terrell Owens 156
"6. Marcus Allen 145
"7. Marshall Faulk 136
"8. Cris Carter 131
"9. Marvin Harrison 128
10. Jim Brown 126