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49ers head coach Shanahan meets with ex-Seahawks CB Sherman


49ers head coach Shanahan meets with ex-Seahawks CB Sherman

The Seattle Seahawks released four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman on Friday morning.

It did not take long for the 49ers to get involved.

Coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area that he dined with Sherman on Friday night in Los Gatos.

"Just doing our due diligence,” Shanahan said.

Sherman told ESPN he had already received preliminary interest from the 49ers, Raiders, Tennessee, Detroit, Houston, Tampa Bay and Green Bay. The Athletic was first to report Sherman had dinner with Shanahan.

Sherman, who turns 30 on March 30, has been a nemesis of the 49ers since breaking into the NFL in 2011. He attended Stanford, where he played for former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

Sherman's aggressive play, talkative nature and rivalries with Harbaugh, Michael Crabtree and Colin Kaepernick helped fuel an already-tense competition in the NFC West.

He broke up Kaepernick's last-minute pass to Crabtree in the end zone, resulting in Malcolm Smith's interception, to defeat the 49ers in the NFC Championship game in January 2014. The Seahawks went on to their first Super Bowl title.

He has 32 interceptions in his 105-game career and has been named three times as a first-team All-Pro selection. After playing in all 16 games during his first six NFL seasons, Sherman was limited to nine game last season.

Sherman is coming off surgeries on both Achilles tendons. ESPN reports 49ers officials will again meet with Sherman on Saturday. He is likely to undergo a physical. If everything goes well, the sides could pursue a contract, according to the report.

He sustained a season-ending ruptured right Achilles in November and underwent surgery. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine Sherman also underwent “clean up” surgery on his left Achilles.

“Very positive,” Carroll said a week before the Seahawks informed Sherman of his release. “He’s had a seemingly great process up until now. It’s a bit of a setback for a couple of weeks now because he is in the boot on the other foot, but he is not slowing down. He is working like crazy. He is having a fantastic offseason. His mentality is good. He’s competing like crazy right now.”

Sherman (6-3, 195) is viewed as the prototypical cornerback for the 49ers’ scheme, which is based on Seattle defense. Robert Saleh, the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, was the Seahawks’ quality control coach during Sherman’s first three NFL seasons.

Cornerback is the 49ers' biggest need with the start of free agency scheduled for next week. The open negotiating period begins Monday afternoon, and teams can begin signing free agents from other teams on Wednesday. Sherman is free to sign with any team at any time because Seattle released him.

Ahkello Witherspoon, who had a solid rookie season, is the only starting cornerback on the 49ers' roster. Dontae Johnson, who started all 16 games is scheduled for unrestricted free agency. The 49ers are not expected to place a high priority on re-signing Johnson.

Sherman earned $11.4 million in salary in 2017 and was scheduled to make $11 million. The Seahawks released him with the designation "failed physical." Sherman thanked the Seahawks organization and its fans via Twitter after his release on Friday.

"As this chapter comes to a close, I am looking forward to what the future holds," Sherman wrote.

Sacramento native Rhys Hoskins reaches Home Run Derby semis


Sacramento native Rhys Hoskins reaches Home Run Derby semis

WASHINGTON — Bryce Harper thrilled the home crowd and surely made his father proud, winning the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday night with an exceptional display of power that carried him past Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs 19-18.

Harper hit the contest-winning blast in extra time, the reward for hitting two homers at least 440 feet during the 4 minutes of regulation. After he connected with the game winner, the Washington Nationals slugger threw his bat in the air and pointed both index fingers toward the sky as a shower of streamers rained upon the crowd of 43,698.

The six-time All-Star arranged to have his dad, Ron, pitch to him in the annual contest on the eve of the All-Star Game. Harper responded with a performance that drew the loudest cheers of the night at Nationals Park.

It’s been a trying season for Harper, who’s hitting only .214 for the disappointing Nationals. He won a contest that many sluggers avoid, fearful it might wear them out and throw them off.

Harper can only hope this helps him get back into the swing.

The 2015 NL MVP beat Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves and Max Muncy of the Dodgers before trumping the fifth-seeded Schwarber, who put the pressure on with a solid outing before Harper stepped to the plate.

Wearing a headband that resembled the District of Columbia flag and displaying a right sleeve with stars and stripes, Harper trailed 18-9 with 1:20 left before rallying. He homered on nine of his last 10 swings before entering extra time.

Hours before the session, Harper spoke excitedly about having his dad pitch to him in the contest. The 25-year-old said his father “worked his tail off every single day to provide for me and my family” and “now being able to have him throw to me in a big league ballpark is the cherry on top.”

Harper advanced to the final with an astonishing spree of long-ball hitting. He trailed Max Muncy of the Dodgers 12-4 with 2:20 left, then peeled off six homers in 47 seconds before calling a timeout.

Harper returned to hit three more home runs in 22 seconds, the last of them inside the right-field foul pole.

The semifinal matchup between Schwarber and Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins was a thriller. After stunning top-seed Jesus Aguilar of Milwaukee in the opening round, the eighth-seeded Hoskins ripped 20 long balls to put the pressure on Schwarber.

Using a late surge, Schwarber pulled one ball after another over the right field wall to squeeze out a 21-20 victory — by far the highest-scoring matchup of the night.

The fans dutifully cheered most home runs during the first round, but they saved their loudest cheers for Harper, the last player to step to the plate.

After Freeman hit 12 home runs over the 4-minute span, Harper unleashed six shots of at least 440 feet and secured the victory with a drive to center long before the clock expired. As the ball cleared the wall, the left-handed hitting Harper walked out of the batter’s box and thrust both arms in the air.

Freeman was the oldest player in the field at 28, and the first Braves participant since Andruw Jones in 2005.

Milwaukee’s Aguilar, the NL home run leader at the break, was eliminated in the opening round by Hoskins 17-12.

Aguilar hit too many balls to straightaway center, where the wall stands over 400 feet from the plate. Hoskins pumped most of his drives into the left-field seats, where it’s 336 feet down the line.

The most thrilling first-round match featured a near buzzer-beater by Houston’s Alex Bregman, who fell to Schwarber 16-15. The difference was the pair of homers that Schwarber hit during 30 seconds of extra time, the reward for hitting two long balls of at least 440 feet.

Bregman — the lone AL representative — appeared defeated with a minute left, but he mounted a late surge and lost when his final swing produced a drive that landed at the base of the center-field wall.

Muncy advanced by defeating No. 6 seed Javier Baez of the Cubs, 16-15. Baez hit the longest shot of the Derby, a 479-footer.

Aaron Rodgers hits fan jumping off a boat in Tahoe in stride with perfect throw


Aaron Rodgers hits fan jumping off a boat in Tahoe in stride with perfect throw

Green Bay Packers quarterback (and former Cal Golden Bear) Aaron Rodgers is known for his downfield accuracy. 

Rodgers has three successful Hail Marys to his name. The first, on Dec. 3, 2015 against the Detroit Lions, kept his team's playoff hopes alive. Another, on Jan. 16, 2016 against the Arizona Cardinals, sent the Divisional game to overtime, and a third came en route to a Wild Card game win against the New York Giants on Jan. 8, 2007. 

At the American Century Championship Celebrity Golf Tournament in Lake Tahoe on Friday, Rodgers added another notch to his belt.

His latest effort won't be confused with the other three, but it's not like any of those receivers landed in a body of water, either. 

The real question? Whether or not that's a catch under the NFL's new rules.