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Rice to Teach Rookie WR A.J. Jenkins the Challenge of “The Hill”

“The Hill” is a a horse trail off Highway 280 above Edgewood Park in San Carlos. It’s the place where Roger Craig, Ronnie Lott, Keena Turner, Eric Wright and others trained during the 49ers glory years.

When Jerry Rice was a rookie, the veterans introduced him to their training regimen. Rice struggled mightily the first time with the 2 1/2-mile uphill climb.

Craig said they didn’t see Rice again for several weeks. But when Rice returned, he was ready for the challenge. Now, that hill is emblematic of Rice’s legendary — some would say maniacal — work ethic.

Rice, now an ESPN analyst, said Tuesday according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayarea.com that new 49ers receiver A.J. Jenkins will be able to carry over lessons learned on “The Hill” to the crucial stages of games.

“I think he’s going to learn toughness and how to be able to endure, which is very important because in the fourth quarter when you’re tired, you’re going to have to make plays to help your team win that football game and you have to be able to stay focused,” Rice said. “So if you can master the hill, in the fourth quarter you’re still going to be able to go out there and excel.”

Rice made a pledge Monday in a Twitter exchange with Jenkins, a first-round draft pick from Illinois, to run “The Hill” with him. Jenkins will remain permanently in the Bay Area upon arriving Thursday for the 49ers’ rookie minicamp.

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