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SAN FRANCISCO _ Joe Montana could have told Jerry Rice this might happen. Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig and Tom Rathman could have told him, too.
The NFL's economic laws apply to every 49er, especially in this era of the almighty salary cap. The old and highly paid rarely survive. Not even icons.
Montana was traded to Kansas City in a bitter divorce. Lott, Craig and Rathman were pushed out the door. Three more bitter departures of 49er stars past their prime.
When Rice signed a seven-year, $31.6 million contract in August 1996, he thought he had escaped that fate.
``I know I'm here for good now,'' Rice said then. ``I'll retire as a 49er.''
Now he's not so sure. Now he realizes no 49er is untouchable, not even the greatest receiver in NFL history.
Rice may well …