Richard Sherman is bracing for — if not fully expecting — the final games of this season to be his last in a 49ers uniform.
Sherman, who works as his own agent, told NBC Sports Bay Area on Saturday that the odds appear stacked against his return to the 49ers. The cornerback is nearing the completion of the three-year contract he signed with the organization in March 2018, just days after the Seattle Seahawks released him.
“We’ve had brief conversations,” Sherman said of contract talks with the 49ers. “I think that there’s obviously a want from both sides to come back and make this work. Unfortunately, I don’t know that the circumstances will allow it.
“That’s the sad, sad truth. It’s one of those years where it’s not from anybody’s fault that it may not work out. And it will be a sad parting because I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I’ve enjoyed this team. I have brothers on this team, and I think we still have work to do. But I don’t know that the circumstances will allow it.”
Sherman, 32, an NFL All-Decade selection for the 2010s, understands teams across the NFL will be forced into difficult personnel decisions because of a shrinking salary cap due to revenues lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 49ers have 40 players who do not have contracts for next season, including such key contributors as Sherman, Trent Williams, Jason Verrett, Kyle Juszczyk, K’Waun Williams, Kendrick Bourne, Kerry Hyder, Solomon Thomas and D.J. Jones.
“There are a ton of guys that need to be paid and are coming up,” Sherman said. “Fred Warner is coming up. There are, like, 40 free agents who need to be re-signed. At the end of the day, they have to do what’s best for the majority, for the team. And I got to understand that. And so the numbers are adding up to that I won’t be here, unless something miraculous happens, which would be really cool.”
General manager John Lynch will face an extreme challenge in the offseason to keep as much of the roster intact while also seeking ways to improve through free agency and the draft.
Sherman will be back in the lineup for his second consecutive start on Monday against the Buffalo Bills in Glendale, Arizona. He missed nine games this season due to a calf condition.
With an uncertain future, Sherman is focused on finishing this season strong as the 49ers (5-6) make a push for the NFC playoffs.
Sherman said he remains as “ecstatic” with his decision to sign with the 49ers as the day he put pen to paper in 2018.
“I’ve enjoyed my time,” Sherman said. “I’ve loved every moment of it. And I wish we could continue it for a couple more years, but it’s not looking likely.”
Sherman figures to have several suitors in free agency, just as he did three years ago when he negotiated the deal that will pay him more than $30.5 million with the 49ers.
If 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is hired elsewhere as a head coach, Sherman would figure to be near the top of the list of free agents Saleh would recruit.
“It’s nice to be wanted,” Sherman said, laughing. “But like I said. I’d love to continue here, and finish it out. When you get a group of guys, a special group, you want to fight with them.
“But it just sucks when circumstances don’t allow you — the team or the player — to do what they’d like.”
Programming Note: Watch the full interview with Richard Sherman on "49ers Pregame Live" on Monday at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming on the My Teams app.