49ers

Emmanuel Sanders was down to 49ers, Saints, Packers in NFL free agency

Emmanuel Sanders was down to 49ers, Saints, Packers in NFL free agency

Emmanuel Sanders is a man of his word. He said he would prioritize an opportunity to contend for a Super Bowl when deciding which team he was going to sign with in free agency, and given the finalists for his services, that's precisely what he did.

Sanders joined "The Rich Eisen Show" on Monday and explained that his decision ultimately came down to the NFC's top three seeds from last season.

"I was talking to Green Bay, I was talking to the Niners and just trying to figure out what type of deal, what type of money are we talking about," Sanders explained. "And then the Saints called, and I was ecstatic about them calling. The opportunity to play with Drew Brees and everything. The numbers made sense -- Drew has two more years left on his deal, and I signed a two-year deal."

As you might recall, the 49ers and Packers earned the Nos. 1 and 2 overall seeds in the NFC last season -- and a first-round bye -- while the Saints finished as the No. 3 seed. New Orleans' season ended in the wild-card round, whereas San Francisco defeated Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl LIV.

While the 49ers and Saints didn't face each other in the playoffs, they did combine for a thrilling regular-season shootout in Week 14 -- a 48-46 San Francisco road win in which Sanders played a huge role, catching seven passes for 157 receiving yards and a touchdown. The next time he returns to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, it won't be as a visiting player.

"I'm just excited to be a New Orleans Saint," Sanders continued. "I looked at the schedule -- we've got 11 or 12 games inside in a dome. Michael Thomas being my counterpart, Drew Brees throwing the ball, Sean Payton calling the plays -- a wide-open spread offense just like I was with Peyton [Manning] in 2014 -- it just set a new fire under me."

[RELATED: NFL will expand playoffs to seven teams beginning in 2020]

Though Sanders didn't elaborate on those indoor games, he was correct in that the Saints will play 11 regular-season games in a dome next season. In addition to road games against the Atlanta Falcons, Las Vegas Raiders and Detroit Lions, they of course have their eight home games -- one of which might be circled as soon as the official schedule is released.

That one?

Against the 49ers.

Ex-49er sees Jamal Adams as next Richard Sherman-type face of NFL

Ex-49er sees Jamal Adams as next Richard Sherman-type face of NFL

During his time in Seattle, Richard Sherman was very visible.

Sherman might have been the villain, but he was the face of a perennial Super Bowl contender. He was the leader of the Legion of Boom.

It's hard for a defensive player to earn the distinction of face of the team or face of the NFL. That honor is usually reserved for quarterbacks.

But is there a young defensive player currently in the NFL that could develop into the face of the NFL? Yes, according to former 49ers practice squad player and current Houston Texans defensive back Michael Thomas.

And that player just happens to be New York Jets safety Jamal Adams, who the 49ers have their eyes on.

"I think I want to see defensive players have the same marketability and opportunities as the “faces of the league” as offensive players," Thomas wrote as the guest writer for NBC Sports' Peter King's "Football Morning in America" column. "Richard Sherman is probably the closest thing we have. He built that larger-than-life persona at the height of the Legion of Boom in Seattle and that’s the sort of thing we need. The bigger a player like Richard Sherman is, the better it will be for the next generation of defensive superstars, like a Jamal Adams, so that they can continue to grow their marketability and raise their platform."

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Adams is unhappy with his current contract situation in New York, and has requested a trade. The Jets still have two years of team control over Adams, so they aren't exactly inclined to trade the All-Pro.

The big difference between Sherman and Adams is that the current 49ers cornerback has a very outgoing personality. For someone who plays in The Big Apple, Adams' persona isn't exactly well known. Can he be the face of the NFL? Yes, he wants the big contract that comes with being an elite player, but does he want that title of "Face of the NFL?"

"Obviously that persona has to come with performing on the field, and that’s why I think Jamal Adams is probably the next big thing who could fill that outsized role after Richard Sherman," Thomas wrote. "His productivity on the field is there. I don’t know what exactly the hype looks like – maybe it’s commercials, like Troy Polamalu with the hair, or maybe it’s getting to the point where, like Sherm, he’s big enough to make it on the cover of Madden. Whatever it is, I just want that for our defensive players, that shine, visibility and compensation, even if it means leaning in to that role as a villain."

[RELATED: Deebo wants Adams on 49ers]

The good news for Adams is that he's still just 24 years old and is entering his fourth NFL season. He still has time to build his public persona and grow into a potential "Face of the NFL."

And if the 49ers can figure out how to fit Adams' salary onto their roster, he can do it while playing with Sherman.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Watch Joe Montana 49ers highlights from dominant 1989 NFL playoffs

Watch Joe Montana 49ers highlights from dominant 1989 NFL playoffs

Joe Montana displayed pinpoint accuracy in the 1989 NFL season, completing 70.2 percent of his passes, and he only was intercepted eight times. In the playoffs, though, the MVP was downright unstoppable. 

Over 83 pass attempts, Montana didn't throw a single interception in three playoffs games. He completed an absurd 78.3 percent of his passes, and had 800 passing yards with 11 touchdowns. Let's take a walk down memory lane, and watch all of Montana's TDs from that dominant three-game run. 

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

That's one minute of purely dominant football. The 49ers outscored their opponents by 100 points, 126-26, in just three games. They averaged over 33 points per game while only allowing under nine. 

Montana obviously was the captain that steered this scoring onslaught. He averaged 267 passing yards per game and nearly four touchdowns. In the 49ers' 55-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV, Montana completed 22 of his 29 pass attempts for 297 yards and five touchdowns. 

[RELATED: This stat shows how 49ers' Aiyuk can be reliable receiver]

Oh, and Jerry Rice helped a bit as Montana's No. 1 receiver. All he did was finish with seven receptions for 148 yards and three touchdowns. 

When the bright lights came on, Montana was at his best. He went a perfect 4-0 in the Super Bowl, and his run in the 1989 playoffs was nothing short of perfect football.