Never say never.
General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan both have confirmed that the door remains open for Richard Sherman to return to the 49ers. Earlier in the week, the All-Pro cornerback himself admitted he had not ruled out donning the red and gold for a fourth season.
“Sherm is in a good situation,” Shanahan said Friday. “He is a businessman, and he is going to find out the best opportunity for him. I know teams are going to want him, but when you’re in a situation like him at his age , which these guys do, when you have the credentials he does, you sit back and you watch it.
“You find the best opportunity for yourself. I know Sherm is probably going to want to go to a contender, just knowing him and how competitive he is. He will sit back and be smart and make the best decision for himself, but when you got a guy you trust and you know how competitive he is, no, we would never rule him out.”
Shortly after Shanahan and Lynch spoke, Sherman told NBC Sports Bay Area that landing with a team that can go deep into the playoffs not only is part of his decision-making process but "the highest" on his list of criteria.
“You never count Sherm out,” Lynch said. “Sherm was a big part of this culture, a tremendous leader. Both Kyle and I consider him a friend. We haven’t really been in communication, we do text from time to time, nothing about football.
“I think Sherm is being patient and kind of waiting it out for the right situation, and we will see where that goes.”
Sherman was an important part of the 49ers for the past three seasons, providing leadership in a very young defensive backs room, but his influence didn’t stop there. Players from every position seem to have anecdotes of moments when the former NFC West rival taught them additional techniques or delivered a bit of new insight into the game.
Tight end George Kittle often has shared how Sherman has helped him see his play through a defensive back’s eyes and how it has improved his game. Wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk reported receiving similar teaching points from the veteran.
But for now, all parties will wait.
The 49ers added to their cornerback room by drafting Michigan’s Ambry Thomas with the No. 102 pick, but having a leader like Sherman in the locker room still is an element that the 49ers brass would value.