Jerry Rice: San Francisco 49ers should draft Paxton Lynch

If Jerry Rice has his way, the NFL will witness a pairing of Chip Kelly and Paxton Lynch.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver endorsed the former Memphis quarterback as the right pick for his former team, and its new coach, in this week's 2016 NFL Draft. San Francisco holds the No. 7 overall pick in Round 1.

"I think they're going offense. It's got to be quarterback. We don't know the situation with Colin Kaepernick, if he's going to be around or if he's going to be leaving. So the big guy, Lynch, out of Memphis, would be an exceptional quarterback," Rice told NFL Network's NFL HQ on Monday. "Big guy, strong arm and I think Chip Kelly had a lot of success with Nick Foles (with the Eagles). I think he could take Lynch under his belt and develop him into a very good quarterback."

NFL Media draft expert Mike Mayock said during a media teleconference Friday that the 49ers' No. 7 overall pick was "a little too rich," to take Lynch, who is projected to be chosen in the second half of the first round in five of six mock drafts by NFL Media analysts. Rice doesn't see it that way.

Rice also was asked about North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz, and whether his FCS level of experience would be a disadvantage for him in the NFL. He quickly drew a comparison to another former small-college player who easily overcame the gap in competition: himself.

"I don't think so. Not at all. I remember the Blue-Gray (college all-star) game, that's when I got a chance to go up against all the players from the major colleges," Rice said. "It was time for me to shine and I was the MVP of that game. I don't think (Wentz is) going to get intimidated by that. I think it's going to give him an opportunity where he can showcase his talent. I was looking forward to it, and I think I did OK."

Jared Goff and Wentz are expected to be the first players off the board when the draft begins on Thursday, with the Rams and Eagles holding the top two picks after trading up.

With those trades creating circumstances that could make Lynch the most attractive quarterback available as early as the third pick of the draft, the 49ers are now part of the Thursday night Lynch watch.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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