Richard Sherman encouraged by how Lamar Jackson is changing perceptions

Richard Sherman encouraged by how Lamar Jackson is changing perceptions

SANTA CLARA -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has played his way into becoming one of the big stories of the NFL season.

Jackson clearly is the headliner this week, as the Ravens and 49ers prepare for a Week 12 matchup featuring two of the league’s top teams.

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman said he believes Jackson’s ascension in the early MVP talk has been great for the game.

“The kid deserves it,” Sherman said. “He’s playing good football. It’s good for black quarterbacks. It’s been a long time. It’s been the rhetoric around this league that black quarterbacks have to run, or black quarterbacks can’t do this, or this league is always a drop-back quarterback league.”

Jackson is the only quarterback in NFL history to produce at least 2,000 passing yards (2,427) and 800 rushing yards (876) through the first 11 games of a season. He is on pace to break Michael Vick’s single-season rushing record of 1,039 yards for a quarterback.

[RELATED: 49ers using James to imitate, plan for Lamar]

While spearheading the Ravens’ top-ranked offense, Jackson leads the NFL with 30 touchdowns produced – 24 passing, six rushing. He twice has produced perfect passer ratings of 158.3. Ben Roethlisberger in 2007 is the only other player to have two perfect single-game ratings in the same season.

Sherman looks at the big picture and how Jackson’s play fits into a change of perceptions from decades earlier. After all, Jackson, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Dak Prescott rank within the NFL’s top nine in passer rating.

“This kid is being dynamic. He’s taking over the league,” Sherman said of Jackson. “And I think the highest passer ratings right now are all black quarterbacks. So it’s a real cool time for the league. Hearing about him, you’re happy that the kid is getting his just due because he’s playing at a high level.

“And at the end of the day, we’ll play the game, we’ll play hard, and we’ll do what we have to do to help our team win the game.”

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Before the 49ers officially had lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, tight end George Kittle was already preaching they would be back next year.

But it didn't stop with him.

49ers players throughout the roster already are thinking of everything they can do to make another run at it, and that includes bringing back free-agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Fellow wideout Deebo Samuel made it clear Wednesday on Twitter that he wants to see the 49ers bring back the 32-year-old veteran.

Sanders showed his appreciation later Wednesday morning.

After coming over from the Denver Broncos via trade in October, Sanders excelled with the 49ers. He caught 36 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season, and added five receptions for 71 yards in the postseason.

But Sanders could have been an even more critical part of 49ers lore, had it not been for Jimmy Garoppolo's overthrown pass with less than two minutes remaining in Super Bowl LIV. But it was not meant to be.

Sanders has been open about his love for the team that had just barely missed the championship and has spoken out about those second-guessing him due to his age. 

The receiver laughed at the fact that he has been "flying past 23-year-olds," and exhorted that he still has plenty of good years left in him.

[RELATED: Sanders offers advice to teammates playing in first Super Bowl]

He also embraced the youth the other wide receivers brought to the team, such as Samuel and Kendrick Bourne. Sanders loved the loose vibes of the 49ers' locker room and assisted the younger players in prepping for the big moments of the Super Bowl. 

Deebo surely noticed that and knows he wants his teammate back for the team's quest to make another Super Bowl run next season.

Jeff Wilson Jr. explains why 49ers' running backs are egoless, tight knit

Jeff Wilson Jr. explains why 49ers' running backs are egoless, tight knit

The 49ers found the perfect answer for a running back by committee approach in 2019. There wasn't one star in the rotation, yet they had the second-most rushing yards in the NFL with 2,305. 

They all have the same thing in common: At one point or another, each of San Francisco's running backs have been counted out. They all have an underdog's mentality. And yet, they're all extremely unselfish. 

"In our room, if you check our pasts, all of us have a similar background," 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr. said Wednesday morning to Steve Wyche on NFL Network's "NFL All Access." "We all come from an undrafted past where we had to take the back road. And all that helps us because we know what each other's going through. If one person's going through it, then one person's been through it.

"And for me, I'm just now entering into it. All those guys have been through the same similar situations, so we feed off each other. I feel like that alone has helped our bond to become stronger." 

Wilson went undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft. Raheem Mostert, the 49ers' leading rusher, went undrafted in the 2015 draft. Same goes with Matt Breida in 2017. 

Tevin Coleman (third round in 2015) and Jerick McKinnon (third round in 2014) were the only running backs in the 49ers' film room who once were drafted. McKinnon has missed the last two seasons with knee injuries, but Wilson still mentioned him among the group. 

Wilson played in 10 regular-season games in 2019 and rushed for only 105 yards, however, he scored four rushing touchdowns, good for third on the team. He also scored one receiving touchdown, and had a 20-yard reception in the 49ers' Super Bowl LIV loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. 

[RELATED: 49ers have solid running backs, but group lacks something]

While Wilson is a part of a deep running back group, he's using a message from Mostert to stay motivated. Mostert took him to breakfast when Wilson first joined the 49ers and told his younger teammate, "It's gonna be a long road. You just gotta keep your head down and know what you're capable of on the inside and never let nobody deter you from that, and you'll be fine."

That seems to be the message throughout the 49ers' running backs. So far, the perseverance has paid off for this group.