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

Why Greg Cosell believes Jimmy Garoppolo needs work on his 'quarterback feet'


Why Greg Cosell believes Jimmy Garoppolo needs work on his 'quarterback feet'

Greg Cosell, a senior producer at NFL Films, believes 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo “has a chance to be a top-level quarterback.” But there remains room for improvement from the player the 49ers awarded a franchise-record contract in the offseason.

Garoppolo has a quick release and can throw at a number of different arm angles to avoid oncoming pass-rushers. And while his accuracy underneath was unquestioned during his 5-0 run as the 49ers’ starter last season, most of the time, his deep throws did not reach the target.

Garoppolo completed just 4 of 16 attempts to targets 20 yards or more down the field last season for 134 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions, according to Pro Football Focus.

[RELATED: Greg Cosell: Kyle Shanahan does one thing 'better than any coach in the NFL']

During the offseason program, Garoppolo appeared to struggle on his deep throws, too. Cosell, a guest on the 49ers Insider Podcast, spoke about Garoppolo’s mechanics.

“Because he has very quick feet, I think people just assume he has great feet all the time when he delivers the ball,” Cosell said. “There’s a difference between having quick, athletic feet and having really good quarterback feet. And I think he needs to work on the quarterback feet part.

“I think guys who have that kind of snap delivery, sometimes they don’t step exactly to their throw and they throw a little bit off-balance, and that could really impact your accuracy to a significant degree. So my guess is those are the kinds of things they’ve worked on. Those are tweaks. I don’t think it will prevent him from being a really good player.”

Garoppolo appeared in six games with five starts last season after the 49ers acquired him for a second-round draft pick in a trade with the New England Patriots. Garoppolo completed 120 of 178 pass attempts (67.4 percent) for 1,580 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions.

Cosell said it is important for all quarterbacks to use consistent mechanics when making throws from a clean pocket.

“Think of a major league pitcher,” Cosell said. “They theoretically should throw the ball the same way every time. So should a quarterback unless the defense dictates otherwise. If the defense doesn’t dictate otherwise, the throws should look the same.”

Greg Cosell: Kyle Shanahan does one thing 'better than any coach in the NFL'


Greg Cosell: Kyle Shanahan does one thing 'better than any coach in the NFL'

There is a lot of hope surrounding the 49ers entering the 2018 season.

Much of that is because of Jimmy Garoppolo.

Much of that also is because of Kyle Shanahan.

"Kyle is one of the most innovative and creative offensive minds in football," cornerback Richard Sherman said back in mid-March after he signed with the 49ers.

On the most recent episode of the 49ers Insider Podcast with Matt Maiocco, NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell offered some high praise for San Francisco's head coach.

"When you look at a Kyle Shanahan offense, I think the thing that stands out the most -- that he does better than any coach in the NFL -- is the fusion between the run game and the pass game," Cosell said. "The run game and the pass game with their play-action concepts look exactly the same.

"And it's very, very difficult for defenses to differentiate the two very often until it's too late. And when you have a quarterback like Garoppolo -- who tends to be a quick decision-maker, a quick processor, he has a very quick compact delivery and then the ball gets out -- I think that just makes it even more difficult."

The 49ers won all five of Garoppolo's starts last season and put up 26, 25, 44 and 34 points in the last four games, respectively. Garoppolo was rewarded with a five-year, $137.5 million deal ($74.1 million guaranteed) -- which drastically increases the expectations.

Garoppolo and Shanahan could become one of the top head coach-quarterback duos for many years.

"When you talk to defensive coaches around the league, they will talk about Kyle Shanahan as one of the two or three of the best in the league when it comes to offensive design and game planning," Cosell added.