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John Lynch: 49ers had deal in place for Aqib Talib


John Lynch: 49ers had deal in place for Aqib Talib

Before the 49ers signed veteran cornerback Richard Sherman to a three-year contract on Saturday, the club thought it had a deal in place for Aqib Talib.

In fact, 49ers general manager John Lynch told Peter King of the MMQB that the 49ers did have a deal in place for a trade with the Denver Broncos. But Talib wanted to play for New England or the Los Angeles Rams, mentioning Bill Belichick and Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, Lynch said.

“We did have a trade in place with Denver for a veteran cornerback,” Lynch said told King. “Aqib Talib. I think he didn’t like the idea of being traded—he wanted to be released. I think he felt, ‘If I’m going anywhere, I want to play for Bill Belichick or Wade Phillips.’ I talked to the Broncos at the scouting combine in Indy about it, and I thought we had a deal.

"Richard wasn’t available then. But we might have had to fight to make the trade for Aqib, so we just dropped it.”

The Rams ended up acquiring Talib in a trade with the Broncos, which left the 49ers with an opening to sign Sherman.

John Lynch offers insight into why 49ers wanted Richard Sherman so badly

John Lynch offers insight into why 49ers wanted Richard Sherman so badly

The 49ers expect veteran Richard Sherman’s influence on the club to spread beyond the playing field.

The 49ers on Sunday announced the official signing of Sherman to a three-year contract. The sides agreed on the deal on Saturday, one day after the Seattle Seahawks released Sherman. On Friday night, Sherman dined with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

“Richard is one of the premier competitors Kyle and I have ever encountered,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement.

“We look forward to him sharing his wealth of experience and his passion for the game of football with our team. Richard has long been looked at as the prototypical corner in our scheme and the opportunity to have him mentor our players was one we needed to attack. Most importantly, we are excited to have a championship caliber corner on the field for the 49ers.”

Sherman, who turns 30 on March 30, is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and a three-time first-team All-Pro.

Pros and cons of 49ers adding Richard Sherman

Pros and cons of 49ers adding Richard Sherman

The 49ers did not waste any time after the Seattle Seahawks released cornerback Richard Sherman on Friday.

A day later, Sherman and the 49ers agreed to a three-year contract.

Here is what the 49ers had to weigh in making the deal:

Need: The 49ers believe Ahkello Witherspoon has a bright future, but the club did not have another starting-caliber cornerback on the roster. The 49ers were looking to find an improvement over Dontae Johnson, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. Cornerback was the 49ers' biggest offseason need with NFL free agency scheduled to open this week.

System fit: Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was on Seattle’s coaching staff for the first three seasons of Sherman’s career. The 49ers’ defense is based on the Seahawks’ scheme. Sherman is the kind of long, physical cornerback that this defense requires. Nobody knows the requirements of the position in this defense any better than Sherman.

Attitude: Sherman is an agitato. He was Public Enemy No. 1 of the 49ers throughout his seven-year run with Seattle. The 49ers do not have many forceful personalities on defense. Sherman brings an attitude that should resonate with this bunch and give the defense some much-needed swagger. Sherman could also be a good influence on linebacker Reuben Foster.

Contract: The initial report that Sherman signed a three-year contract worth up to $39.15 million does not tell the story. The deal reportedly includes a relatively small signing bonus of $5 million. The 49ers can get out after just one year without much impact on the salary cap.

Age/health: Sherman turns 30 later this month and is coming off season-ending Achilles surgery. With an expected 6-to-8-month rehabilitation after the mid-November surgery, Sherman should be cleared for football activity for the beginning of training camp. The question, however, is whether he can regain his speed to be able to run with top wide receivers.

Closing door: The addition of Sherman likely ends the 49ers’ search to improve at cornerback on the veteran market. The 49ers were expected to pursue a younger player – perhaps with more upside – in free agency. Aaron Colvin (Jacksonville) and Rashaan Melvin (Indianapolis) were among the potential targets. (It seemed unlikely all along the 49ers would have pursued Los Angeles Rams free agent Trumaine Johnson at the price he is likely to command.) While the addition of Sherman does not rule out the possibility of adding another cornerback on the open market, it makes it less likely the 49ers will pay the salary required to land a starter.

Expectations: Sherman did a lot of winning during his time with the Seahawks. He comes to the 49ers with the expectation of returning to the playoffs. But the 49ers are still a work in progress. If things go poorly, how will Sherman respond to the adversity?

History: The Seahawks have a nine-game head-to-head win streak against the 49ers. And nobody was a bigger pain in the rear during that time for the 49ers than Sherman, who performed at a high level on the field and took delight in rubbing it in the faces of the team and its fan base. There will be a honeymoon period, for sure, but his every move will be scrutinized and the fan base probably won’t be too forgiving of any mistakes.