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49ERS ARE STILL HOPING TO GET DEION SANDERS ON THE CHEAP

Nearly two weeks after dropping out of the bidding for free agent cornerback Deion Sanders, the San Francisco 49ers said Monday they were back in it - sort of.

The 49ers were among at least five NFL teams expressing an interest in Sanders, but backed off because salary cap constraints prevented them from competing with other offers to the two-sport star.However, Sanders rejected the highest of those offers, a four-year, $17 million pact from New Orleans, and reportedly is again leaning to the 49ers.

San Francisco coach George Seifert said Monday the 49ers were still very much interested in Sanders, who may be awaiting word on the future of the baseball season before deciding where to play football. If there is no strike settlement, baseball owners may decide this week to cancel the rest of the season.

Club president Carmen Policy said the 49ers' only realistic chance of landing Sanders would be if the Pro Bowl defender would accept a one-year, incentive-laden deal with a low base salary.

Currently, San Francisco is $21,000 below the $34.6 million salary cap.

Meanwhile in Cincinnati, a lawyer for Sanders said he would plead innocent to criminal charges resulting from an alleged scuffle with a city police officer at Riverfront Stadium.

Police said Sanders tried to drive his motor scooter through a restricted gate at Riverfront Stadium, refused an order to produce his driver's license and then dragged a police officer at least 20 feet after the officer tried to turn off Sanders' scooter.