How Emmanuel Sanders, young 49ers receivers are perfect complements

How Emmanuel Sanders, young 49ers receivers are perfect complements

SANTA CLARA -- While most of the focus has been on what the young 49ers receivers have learned from veteran Emmanuel Sanders since he arrived, it's what he's learned from them that has made the experience so unique. 

Kendrick Bourne leads the wide receivers with five touchdowns on the season which all were made after the arrival of Sanders to the club. 

Deebo Samuel’s 802 receiving yards leads the wide receivers group. Samuel’s production also jumped dramatically after Sanders' arrival with 42 of his 57 receptions for 634 yards happening in Week 8 or after.  

Sanders' maturity and experience has been invaluable to both Bourne and Samuel but he claims the benefit has been mutual. Sanders has been rejuvenated by the youth and energy of the two young wide receivers. 

“When you got guys like Kendrick Bourne in the locker room dancing and blasting music, doing all kinds of dance moves it’s kind of hard to not be loose,” Sanders said. "Even this morning in the locker room he was dancing, he and Deebo Samuel and all the rest of the young guys, I looked over at Sherm [Richard Sherman], I said man, these guys keep us young. 

“Guys like that are good for the ecosystem of this team. Guys like me and Sherm are good for the playoff experience, to let them understand the magnitude of what we need to accomplish. So I think we have a well-balanced team. 

It’s not just the youthful enthusiasm that is beneficial to Sanders and the team. He has also learned valuable techniques from both Bourne and Samuel. 

“Just to see Deebo and K.B. and how these guys practice, and how they run through the ball right after the catch,” Sanders said. “You know, it’s like, let me try to fit in with these guys. 

“Because you know, one thing about this league is that you can be in year 10 and you take a guy in year one, and if you don’t think you can learn from a guy in year one, you’re not going to make it too long in this league. I feel like everybody can learn something from somebody.” 

While Bourne and Samuel lead the group in a few categories, Sanders has been no slouch since joining the 49ers. Not only did he survive playing 17 weeks straight, at times with a rib cartilage injury, but he also totaled 36 catches for 502 yards with the club giving him 13.9 average yards per catch. 

[RELATED: Sanders appreciate bye week more than anyone]

“If you watch Kendrick Bourne run through a football even when you go to the games, a lot of guys in this league, I’ve been in this league a long time and a lot of guys don’t run through the football like that,” Sanders said. “He has exceptional hands and Deebo and the way that he runs after the catch. That’s something that I try to pick up off those guys.” 

Sanders isn’t worried about the young locker room as they head to the playoffs, many for the first time. He believes the increased intensity through the second half of the schedule forced the team to be “locked-in” all season.

George Kittle jokingly offers up Richard Sherman's phone number online

George Kittle jokingly offers up Richard Sherman's phone number online

Professional athletes notoriously keep an extremely safe guard over their personal cell phone numbers.

With good reason, as their devices likely never would stop ringing if the number was publicly available.

49ers cornerback Richard Sherman turned 32 years old on Monday, and his fellow all-pro and teammate George Kittle offered him an interesting present via social media.

Obviously this is all in good fun, as Kittle always has been known for ribbing his teammates.

[RELATED: Why Lynch likely was scouting Louisville's Becton from home]

Sherman has 114 career passes defenses, but he’d have to swat away a lot more phone calls if Kittle were to blast out his digits.

Celebrate Richard Sherman's 32nd birthday by remembering 2019 rants

Celebrate Richard Sherman's 32nd birthday by remembering 2019 rants

Richard Sherman is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, but he might be most in his element at a podium.

The 49ers cornerback is one of the league's best speakers, captivating reporters looking to fill notebooks and fans starved to hear something interesting from the players they follow whenever he addresses the media.

Our colleagues in content at NBC Sports Northwest celebrated Sherman's 32nd birthday on Monday by remembering his epic dismissal of then-49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree after the 2013 NFC Championship Game, but the veteran added to his canon of memorable interviews and social-media rants during his second season with the 49ers during the 2019 season. Here are his best in honor of the All-Pro taking another trip around the sun.

The handshake heard -- but not seen -- around the world

Sherman's 49ers stomped on the Cleveland Browns, the darlings of the NFL offseason, in Week 5 on "Monday Night Football." The win established San Francisco as For Real, but Sherman managed to grab the most headlines when he told NFL Media's Mike Silver that Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield didn't shake his hand before the game.

"What's amazing, and annoying, was him not shaking hands at the beginning," Sherman told Silver. "That's some college s--t. It's ridiculous. We're all trying to get psyched up, but shaking hands with your opponent -- that's NFL etiquette. And when you pull bush league stuff, that's disrespectful to the game. And believe me, that's gonna get us fired up."

That's not really what happened, either.

Video revealed that Mayfield did, in fact, shake hands with Sherman before the game, just not a second time. Sherman said he would apologize to Mayfield after the cornerback was caught in a lie, but still managed to turn the fiasco into ... an observation on sports-media priorities in 2019?

"I've said my piece about it," Sherman said in October. "I'm going to have a conversation with him, and then I'm kind of going to be done with it. It’s just funny it got so big. I thought the football game is what they watched for, but I guess it’s the soap opera."

Sherman becomes @OldTakesExposed

Sherman remembered everyone who criticized him signing an incentive-heavy contract with the 49ers as a free agent in 2018.

And I mean everyone.

There's much more nuance to Sherman's contract, as ESPN's Bill Barnwell expertly noted soon after Sherman's dunk session. Yet Sherman showed once again how unsparing he is when vindicated, and it wouldn't be the last time he relished proving people wrong during the 49ers' Super Bowl run.

In his zone

Sherman has long been knocked by critics for being a "zone" cornerback, who have argued that he can't guard the NFL's best receivers 1-on-1. The cornerback lit into those doubters after the 49ers' win over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Divisional Round, when Sherman intercepted Vikes QB Kirk Cousins to set up a San Francisco touchdown.

“People think I’m a zone [cornerback],” he said in January. “[It’s] man! Playoffs! Pick! Gotta have those. You know what I mean?

“But you know what [media] is going to do? They’re going to do what they always do to me. They’re going to make an excuse for why I’m great. They’re going to have an excuse. ‘Oh, it was Kirk Cousins!’ It’s always an excuse. But when somebody does it, it’s like, ‘He’s the best corner.’

“Look, Jalen [Ramsey] was [considered] the greatest corner. But I’m a system corner. We play in the same system! But I’m a system corner. You start to listen and it’s like, ‘Bro, they run the same scheme.’ Like, what are we talking about?”

You will be shocked to learn victory lap continued on Twitter.

[RELATED: 49ers interview Washington prospects for draft]

Corner vs. Corner

There are no two questions more boring than "Is Player X Elite?" and "Is Player Y Better Than Player Z?" Well, unless you happen to be one of Players X, Y or Z.

Longtime NFL cornerback Darrelle Revis sustained hours of sports-talk radio and debate television when he blasted Sherman on Twitter in the aftermath of the 49ers' NFC Championship Game win over the Green Bay Packers, drudging up the old criticism of Sherman not being good enough in man-to-man coverage.

Sherman, understandably, wasn't having it.

"You're going to have to get an interview with him and talk to him about it," Sherman said on "The Rich Eisen Show." "I really got nothing for him, but he seems to have too much time on his hands or something. I think it's one of those where a guy who thinks more of himself than the world thinks of him, feels like I'm getting more credit than I deserve or something like that. Obviously, his stats don't match my stats so he's trying to find other ways to make himself relevant in the conversation."

All professional athletes think they can stack up with the best their sport has to offer. Few are as vocal about it as Sherman.