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Joe Staley welcomes Richard Sherman to 49ers

Joe Staley welcomes Richard Sherman to 49ers

The 49ers player with the longest memory is ready to turn the page on an old rivalry.

Left tackle Joe Staley welcomed former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman to the 49ers on Sunday via social media

“As much as I disliked playing against him for years, I know I will love being teammates with him going forward,” Staley wrote on Twitter. “Pumped to have @RSherman_25 as a teammate!!”

Staley, 33, is a veteran of 11 NFL seasons – all with the 49ers. Staley, a six-time Pro Bowl player, is the longest-tenured 49ers player. Sherman spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Seahawks, during which time he proved to be a main nemesis of the 49ers.

Sherman agreed to terms on Saturday with the 49ers on a three-year contract just one day after the Seahawks released him to avoid paying his scheduled $11 million salary.

49ers, Sherman brush aside preconceived notions with signing

49ers, Sherman brush aside preconceived notions with signing

Richard Sherman and the San Francisco 49ers make sense on a number of intriguing levels, which would seem to undercut the common wisdom that Sherman actually chose to be a serious irritant to the 49ers during his time in Seattle.

That is wrong. The former Seattle cornerback extraordinaire was a serious irritant to everyone during his time in Seattle – including, at times, the Seahawks themselves. He was not shy about how he played, or how he talked, because he could walk what he talked, no matter how loudly it seemed to be.

But he is a 49er today for two compelling reasons – the first being that they needed a shutdown corner, which he still may be, and second being that they were willing to offer him a contract that could last three years and pay him as much as $39.15 million.

And maybe there is a third as well. Sherman had no particular animus toward the 49ers per se. He had an animus toward Jim Harbaugh from their occasionally fractious times at Stanford. That is not likely to be an issue again unless Harbaugh returns to the NFL, though Sherman is almost sure never to let it be a bygone bygone.

While there is no guarantee that he will regain his dominant place among the league’s defenders (like most players of his age and experience level, his body is barking back at him), he is in a place where his coach wants production before any perceived deportment issues, and he is in a place that in the last two years has shown an unusual willingness to allow player speech to be free.

Or at the very least freer than most other places. And Sherman has a great and much-noticed reverence for the First Amendment.

This may have played some role in Sherman’s decision, although like most players at age 30, the highest bidder has an enormous advantage. The 49ers in the post-Baalke era have been among the most tolerant in the NFL in terms of player speech, starting with Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, and Sherman might well have factored that into his choice.

But the 49ers’ choice was more elemental. They need players with Sherman’s pedigree, and though there might have been a case made for them spending their money in pursuit of, say, free agent cornerback stars like Trumaine Johnson or Malcolm Butler, just to name two healthier and slightly younger performers, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have shown a predilection for aggressive shopping in their brief time running triage for the 49ers. Whatever the value of their decisions, they have been fueled by what can best be described as decisive impatience.

In other words, they wanted what Richard Sherman could do, they had the money to get it, and they got it only one day after he’d been officially released by the Seahawks. The market opened itself to them, and they jumped.

Whether it works to their advantage or not remains to be seen, because football is a vicious master when it comes to its players, especially those coming off a significant injury. But the 49ers didn’t let side issues distract them, and Sherman didn’t let any notions of past issues with the 49ers distract him. Mutual needs were met, and now we will see if they will be fulfilled.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for NBCSportsBayArea.com

Source: 49ers, Richard Sherman agree to three-year deal

Source: 49ers, Richard Sherman agree to three-year deal

Cornerback Richard Sherman, the 49ers’ biggest nemesis for most of the past decade, is reportedly joining the organization he tormented for so long.

For the 49ers, the reasoning seems to be, “If you can’t beat ‘em, sign ‘em.”

Sherman and the 49ers agreed on a three-year contract Saturday, a source confirmed. Sherman told ESPN the deal is worth up to $39.15 million.

Sherman’s seven-year union with the Seattle Seahawks came to an end on Friday, as the club released him to avoid playing his scheduled $11 million salary for the 2018 season.

He had dinner Friday night with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and spent most of Saturday with club officials in Santa Clara. He also took a physical. Sherman represented himself in negotiations. ESPN first reported the three-year agreement. He told ESPN the contract is worth up to $39.5 million.

Sherman, who turns 30 on March 30, is a four-time Pro Bowl player and a three-time selection as a first-team All-Pro. After playing all 16 games in his first six seasons, Sherman’s season came to an end in November after nine games due to a torn right Achilles tendon.

The original timetable for Sherman’s return to football activity was 6-to-8 months, which would place his return from mid-May to mid-July – in time for the opening of training camp. Dr. Robert Anderson performed the surgery in Green Bay on Nov. 16.

Sherman also recently underwent a procedure to “clean up” his left Achilles.

Since Sherman’s rookie year of 2011, he leads the NFL with 32 interceptions and 99 passes broken up. He has been particularly disruptive – both with his skills and his mouth – against the 49ers.

Sherman made the play in the final minute of the NFC Championship game in January 2014 to deflect a Colin Kaepernick pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the end zone. Linebacker Malcolm Smith, now with the 49ers, made the interception to set up Seattle’s first and only Super Bowl title.

Beginning with that game, the Seahawks have won nine consecutive head-to-head matchups against the 49ers.

The addition of Sherman fills the 49ers’ biggest offseason need. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon had a promising rookie season, but the 49ers did not have another starter-caliber cornerback on their roster before the addition of Sherman.

Dontae Johnson, who started all 16 games at cornerback for the 49ers last season, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. The 49ers are not expected to place a high priority on re-signing Johnson.