49ers

Former 49ers Sanders and Dent voted into HOF

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Former 49ers Sanders and Dent voted into HOF

Feb. 5, 2011
NFL PAGE

DALLAS (AP) Deion Sanders always was Prime Time. Now he's All Time.Sanders and Marshall Faulk led a class of seven voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. Joining them were Shannon Sharpe, Richard Dent, Ed Sabol, Les Richter and Chris Hanburger.As talkative as he was talented, known as much for his celebration dances as his interceptions and kick returns, Sanders was an outstanding cornerback and sometime wide receiver with five teams. He's a two-time Super Bowl winner and was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1994.Sanders reacted to his election with typical Neon Deion bravado. He said he's grateful, but then made sure to explain, "what you feel about me has nothing to do with how I feel about me."Then he broke into the open field."Next to the Bible, my favorite book was The Little Engine That Could.' I read that story so many times, I know it by heart," he said. "And a couple trains passed that engine until he started saying to himself: 'I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.' And that's what I modeled my career after. I mean, it sounds arrogant, it sounds brash, it sounds cocky. But it was real."Sanders also played major league baseball. But football clearly was his calling."He was an electrifying performer who put fans on the edge of their seats every time he manned his cornerback position or dropped back to receive a kickoff or field a punt," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said. "Deion is, without question, one of the greatest players in the history of the NFL."Sanders got in a comical dig at Faulk and Sharpe."Man, this is real," he said, "and I got to see Marshall Faulk and Shannon Sharpe cry."Faulk won a Super Bowl with the 1999 Rams, was the 1994 Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2000 NFL MVP and a three-time Offensive Player of the Year (1999-2001). Faulk is the 10th leading career rusher with 12,279 yards, and for a half-dozen seasons was the most versatile back in football, as much a threat as a receiver as a runner."I wanted the ball in my hands so I could so something with it," Faulk said, recalling how he briefly played quarterback in high school and didn't find it exciting enough.Faulk got teary-eyed when asked how his mother reacted to his election.Sharpe starred for Denver and Baltimore for 14 seasons and won three Super Bowls in a four-year span, two with Denver, one with Baltimore. He held league records for a tight end in receptions, yards and touchdowns when he retired in 2001."If I had a thousand tongues, I couldn't say how happy and proud I am," Sharpe said. "I don't know what I did to deserve this.John Elway knew."This caps off a tremendous football career by a guy who truly was self-made and worked his tail off to become one of the best players in the history of the NFL," said Elway, who was Sharpe's quarterback in Denver.Sharpe always knew football was going to be his profession."If you are going to have letters behind your name, I wasn't going to have M.D. or PhD. HOF is pretty good," he said.Bears defensive end Dent was the MVP of the 1986 Super Bowl and finished with 137 12 career sacks. He was the top pass rusher on one of the NFL's greatest defensive units. Dent became a starter in 1984, beginning a 10-year period in which he made 10 or more sacks in eight of 10 seasons."It was a long time coming, I am very happy," Dent said. "If you can do your thing the way (Walter Payton) did his, you can be in the Hall of Fame. I am so thankful for this."Dent also won a Super Bowl in 1994 with the 49ers.Richter played linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams from 1954-62. They traded 11 players for him and waited two years while he was in the military before he suited up. He made the wait worthwhile , going to eight straight Pro Bowls. He also was a center and kicker.Richter died last June."Les was a tough, hard-nosed football player who gave it his all on every play and in every practice," Hall of Famer Deacon Jones recalled of Richter. "He knocked the hell out of people. I mean, he'd really hit you. Les Richter was a great teammate."Hanburger spent all 14 pro seasons with the Redskins and played in nine Pro Bowls. He played from 1965-78 and was called "The Hangman." He was known for using clothesline tackles that eventually were outlawed."It's wonderful. I am just overwhelmed. It's such a tremendous honor to be nominated, let alone get in," Hanburger said. "Have to think of all the men who played before me and all the men I played with."Sabol founded NFL Films and was selected as a contributor. Under his guidance, NFL Films received 52 Emmy Awards.The finalists who did not get in were Curtis Martin, Dermontti Dawson, Cortez Kennedy, Andre Reed and Willie Roaf.Induction ceremonies are Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio.

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

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AP

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

I hadn’t considered the notion of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles bombing quite so badly Thursday night, so I hadn’t considered the notion advanced by Pro Football Talk Friday morning that Jacksonville might be a great place for Colin Kaepernick.

That’s because I long ago stopped considering the idea that Kaepernick’s exile from football was, or is, about football. It isn’t. He is the example for future player/miscreants, and trotting his name out every time a quarterback in the new NFL vomits up a practice game on national television is simply perpetuating a lie.

Until someone gets so desperate that it isn’t any more.

That’s the problem with being so definitive about Kaepernick’s perpetual ban. It only takes one owner with a willingness to stick a middle finger up to the objections and say, “I own a football team, not some branch of the USO” to end this national spitfest once and for all. And yes, I say owner because this is an owner’s decision, solely and completely. In the hypothetical of Kaepernick the Jaguar, it will be made not by Doug Marrone, who is merely a coach, or by Tom Coughlin, who is only the general manager, but Shahid Khad, one of the brightest and quietly more powerful owners in the league.

But the odds still scream No Kaep For You, because it would mean that exhibition games matter for judgmental purposes (which they don’t), that Bortles is somehow worse than half the quarterbacks in the NFL (he is part of an amorphous blob of non-producers whose numbers are growing as the differences between college and pro football offenses expand), and that owners easily break away from the herd once the herd has decided on something (Khan is not a rebel in the Jerry Jones mold by any means).

In other words, I remain unconvinced that there is a place for Colin Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL. And he’s probably better off.

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

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AP

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

One week after center Jeremy Zuttah played his way off the 49ers’ roster in short order, he ended up back with the team that got rid of him to open the offseason.

The Baltimore Ravens on Friday announced the signing of Zuttah, whom the 49ers released on Aug. 9 after acquiring him from the Ravens in a March trade.

The 49ers determined center Daniel Kilgore was clearly better than Zuttah. Moreover, Zuttah he did not demonstrate any promise of being an asset at either of the guard positions.

Zuttah, 31, played the past three seasons with the Ravens after six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Zuttah was named to his first Pro Bowl after last season.

The 49ers originally acquired Zuttah in a swap of sixth-round draft picks. The Ravens received the 49ers’ pick at No. 186 and selected Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark. The 49ers took over Baltimore’s selection at No. 198 and chose Mississippi defensive tackle D.J. Jones.

The 49ers are confident in Kilgore and offensive tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown. However, there is concern at the guard positions.

Brandon Fusco appears to be earning the confidence of the coaching staff at right guard. But left guard remains a concern. Zane Beadles is currently the starter while Joshua Garnett rehabs from arthroscopic knee surgery to repair cartilage. The 49ers are hopeful Garnett will be available for the opening of the regular season.