SANTA CLARA — All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman has taken part in 14 playoff games and two Super Bowls, but he believes that those experiences are overrated as an asset, whereas team chemistry is not.
Many 49ers players have been influenced by Sherman’s leadership and character. Watching him interact in the locker room is akin to mayor working the room but without the negative connotations. He talks to everyone, offense, defense and special teams alike.
While Sherman’s play on the field speaks for itself, coach Kyle Shanahan believes that what he represents in the locker that might be just as important.
“I think he's meant a ton,” Shanahan said. “You can probably ask each guy and probably get a different answer. He's helped us the most by how he's played, but also having a guy that's been there and done that, especially having a young team.
“When you have a guy who guys have grown up watching a little bit, and being in big games like this and even starting out the year 8-0, going through that, and having guys who have kind of been at the top of the league halfway through, echo how tough it's going to be to keep that going.
“Any time you have guys with experience who have been through it who are also one of your better players, it helps a ton.”
Someone who appreciates Sherman’s open door attitude is fellow All-Pro George Kittle.
“Sherm's the best. He's such a leader," Kittle said. "He talks to every single person in the locker room. He's not one of those guys that sits in his locker space and just talks to guys around him. He's always around.
“He wants to talk to everybody and he doesn't really force knowledge on you. He's definitely an open book. If you have questions for him, he'll sit and talk football with you all day. That's one thing that's incredible about him.”
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The elements that Sherman believes are evident in most championship teams are what he sees in the 49ers' locker room. While it’s likely unintentional, his influence on the team's chemistry is part of what makes it so special.
“Great players, great execution, great coaching and poise,” Sherman said. “There’s a sense of brotherhood for sure in the building. There's a trust in one another. There's a bit of adversity, you know, overcoming adversity throughout the season, and we've had all those ingredients. Then it's just guys that play hard for one another. They won't take no for an answer.”