SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers felt great about getting nothing in return for a potential Hall of Fame receiver Monday.
The move they made in trading Isaac Bruce to the St. Louis Rams for no compensation showed respect for Bruce by letting him retire as a Ram without receiving his release from the 49ers. Quarterback Alex Smith described Bruce as "unique" relative to other players he has known in describing Bruce's perfectionist approach to football specifically and life in general.
Bruce, 37, leads all NFL players in receiving yardage (15,208) since he entered the NFL in 1994. Bruce's on-field role had diminished almost to nothing recently, but he still emerged from the 2000s trailing only former Rams teammate Torry Holt in receptions and receiving yards for NFC West teams during the decade (see chart).
Bruce joins Walter Jones and Kurt Warner among NFC West legends retiring this offseason. Another former star, Orlando Pace, remains without a team for 2010. They could all be eligible for Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration at the same time.