49ers

NFL free agency: Jadeveon Clowney atop best players still available

NFL free agency: Jadeveon Clowney atop best players still available

NFL free agency just opened up, and almost all of the shiny toys have already been taken off the shelves. That is to be expected. Teams don't typically let their star players get away, and the ones that do are quickly snatched up by one of the 31 other franchises in the league.

The early story of free agency has been the quarterback carousel put in motion due to the large volume of high-profile signal-callers on the open market. Tom Brady reportedly has a new home, as do Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota. Nick Foles was traded, and both Cam Newton and Jameis Winston would appear destined to join teams other than the ones they've spent their entire careers with after being No. 1 overall draft picks.

The Raiders have been very active so far, reportedly adding several new starters on the defensive side of the ball. Meanwhile, the 49ers made a huge trade, and have kept busy by retaining most of their own free agents.

[RELATED: Realistic 49ers free agency targets to help bolster roster]

The vast majority of high-profile free agents who reportedly have not yet reached an agreement on a contract have been franchise tagged by their incumbent teams, meaning they'll be under contract for at least one more season -- albeit at a lofty salary -- if a different agreement between player and team can't be reached. That said, there are some notable players who have slipped through the cracks of the first days of free agency who will be big additions to whichever team signs them.

Here are seven of the best that are still available:

CLICK HERE FOR TOP REMAINING NFL FREE AGENTS

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.