It paid to be Richard Sherman this season.

The 49ers cornerback earned all $4 million in end-of-season incentives in his contract this season after being named second-team All-Pro on Friday, which Sherman then threw back in the face of those who criticized him for signing a three-year, $39 million contract as a free agent in 2018 that only included $3 million in fully guaranteed money. 

Sherman said he "felt like I made the right decision and I knew what I was doing when I did it."

"That's why it was frustrating to hear all the nonsense but when you have people saying stuff like that, you've got to wait for the long play," Sherman told reporters on Santa Clara on Friday (via ESPN's Nick Wagoner). "You've got to wait for the long play, and I keep all the receipts. I keep it in my back pocket because I know I'm gonna be right in the end."

In his second season since a ruptured Achilles tendon cut short his last campaign with the Seattle Seahawks in 2017, Sherman looked like his old self. 

Pro Football Focus ranked Sherman first among cornerbacks in coverage grade and overall grade, and the nine-year veteran intercepted three passes, defensed 11 and recorded the second-most tackles of his career (61). There might not be a more self-assured player in the NFL than Sherman, so it's unsurprising that he never wavered in his belief he would bounce back in a big way in 2019. 

 

"It's all about having confidence in yourself and understanding what your capabilities are," Sherman continued, "and having honest conversations with yourself with who you are and what you think you're capable of. It's the same thing I would tell my son. I wouldn't tell my son, 'Hey, don't believe in yourself. It may not work out how you planned it to.'

"No, believing is going to work out exactly how you planned it. Work hard towards that goal. It doesn't just happen. ... You've got to push yourself to the limits. You've got to push yourself and you've got to deserve what you earn."

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Sherman's resurgence helped lead the 49ers, who went 10-22 in the previous two seasons, to an NFC West title and the No. 1 seed (and homefield advantage) in the conference. 

As surprising as Sherman hitting his incentives was to his doubters, being in a position to win his second Super Bowl ring -- and the 49ers' sixth -- has to be even bigger.