Richard Sherman's hatred of the 49ers was well-documented.
The cornerback relished beating San Francisco as a member of the Seattle Seahawks, making his decision to sign with the 49ers as a free agent in 2017 such a surprise. Sherman's disdain for the Niners didn't stem from their status as NFC West rivals, but from the man who coached San Francisco from 2011 through '14: Jim Harbaugh.
"I wanted to put him out of the league," Sherman told reporters at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. on Monday at Super Bowl Opening Night (H/T Santa Rosa Press Democrat's Phil Barber). "And once I got that done, I had no animosity toward the 49ers organization."
Harbaugh coached Sherman at Stanford University from 2007 through '10. Sherman told NBC Sports Bay Area in October that Harbaugh said the Compton native quit on his Cardinal teammates by undergoing season-ending surgery in 2008. Sherman was granted a medical redshirt for that season, but Harbaugh wouldn't let the then-wide receiver -- who led Stanford in receiving yards as freshman and sophomore -- play on offense during his redshirt junior season. Falling to the fifth round (No. 154 overall) in the 2011 NFL Draft, Sherman felt Harbaugh didn't help him in the draft process, either.
Sherman's Seahawks lost their first three games against Harbaugh's 49ers, but they quickly turned the tide in the rivalry. They won five of the last six matchups, including an infamous 2013 NFC Championship Game victory that featured Sherman calling Michael Crabtree -- another target of his ire -- a "sorry" wide receiver after Sherman tipped the game-deciding interception to linebacker Malcolm Smith.
Harbaugh lasted just one more regular season after that loss, "mutually parting ways" with the 49ers after an 8-8 season that included two lopsided losses to Sherman's Seahawks. He returned to the collegiate ranks to coach at the University of Michigan, his alma mater, and he hasn't returned to the NFL since.
Though Sherman is a Stanford alum, there's a good chance his second-favorite team on college football Saturdays is whoever Harbaugh's playing.
Richard Sherman: "My petty factor's pretty up there."— Phil Barber (@Skinny_Post) January 28, 2020
Sherman also compared himself to Luke Skywalker on Monday, but this is hardly the Jedi way.
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 9 p.m. Tuesday and 3 p.m. Saturday).
Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.