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Deion Sanders explains why he left 49ers after just one season

(Photo credit: Daniel Ogden)

Deion Sanders had one of the best seasons for a defensive player in 49ers history, and yet his tenure with the team lasted a grand total of 17 games.

After signing with the 49ers before Week 3 of the 1994 season, Sanders had arguably the best year of his career, finishing with six interceptions, three touchdowns, winning Defensive Player of the Year and capping things off with a Super Bowl trophy.

And then, it was over. Sanders signed with the Cowboys in the offseason, making his tenure in San Francisco one of the most curious one-offs in NFL history.

So what happened? According to Sanders, the 49ers weren’t interested in his services.

“I was never offered a contract, do you know that?” Sanders told Papa and Lund on Tuesday afternoon. “You know how I found out I wasn’t coming back? I was playing outfield for the San Francisco Giants and we had a day game, and after the day game I went over to eat at some restaurant. I think preseason had started, and I see a dude on TV with No. 21 on. ‘Well I guess it’s over!'”

Deion said he would’ve loved to return.

“Of course! Why wouldn’t you offer me a contract? Never did. Never made an offer.”

He also mentioned another wrinkle involving Jerry Rice that might’ve had an impact.

“This is business. I think Jerry had a clause in his contract that he had to be the second-highest paid player on the team. Which, I would’ve never done that clause, because I want to be the highest paid player on the team. I want to be the highest paid player. Never second.

“Even if that’s true. Wouldn’t you have encouraged them to sign me back, so they would’ve bumped you up too?”

Sanders played for the Cowboys the net five seasons, making the Pro Bowl four times.

Listen to the full interview below.


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