Three-time first-team All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman is now a member of the 49ers with a huge assist to the quarterback the organization signed to a record-setting deal earlier this offseason.
Sherman, acting as his own agent, signed a three-year contract with the 49ers on Saturday. He said the presence of Jimmy Garoppolo played a “huge part” in his desire to play for the 49ers. He also cited coach Kyle Shanahan’s prowess at putting together confounding offensive packages.
“He and Jimmy together will contribute to a lot of wins for this football team,” Sherman said Monday in a conference call. “And I think, defensively, I can bring a presence and a leadership that will stabilize and help this defense rise to prominence, as well.”
On Friday, Sherman was informed of his release from the Seattle Seahawks, the team for which he played his first seven NFL seasons. When Sherman’s name was distributed on the league’s personnel notice to each team, he said he immediately heard from Shanahan and 49ers general manager John Lynch.
“I really appreciated that because it showed their commitment, their excitement at having a chance to bring me on board and really show me they were putting their best foot forward,” Sherman said.
That evening he and his fiancée dined in Los Gatos with Shanahan and his wife. He also met with 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who served on Seattle’s coaching staff during Sherman’s first three years in the NFL.
Sherman, who has always played with an attitude, used the Seahawks’ decision to cut him as motivation to remain in the NFC West.
“I’ve always played that way, but this is kind of reigniting that gasoline fire that I’ve always had burning,” Sherman said. “It just threw a lot more gas on that and I’m thankful for this motivation and this inspiration.”
Sherman has always been particularly motivated to face the 49ers. He has been the main antagonist in a rivalry that Seattle has dominated, beginning with a victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship game in January 2014. The Seahawks have defeated the 49ers in nine consecutive head-to-head meetings.
Sherman took particularly delight in tormenting his college coach, Jim Harbaugh, with whom he feuded during and after their time together at Stanford. Sherman said he will have no problem adjusting to now being a member of the 49ers.
“It had a lot more with Jim Harbaugh associated with it than with Shanahan and John Lynch,” Sherman said. “I think with Robert Saleh and Kyle at the helm, it there’s a lot of familiarity there, in terms of scheme I play in and the way they run that defense.
"I’ve spent a lot of time wearing a red jersey in the Bay, so I’m sure I’ll figure it out."
In one of the more memorable moments of Sherman’s ability to get under the skins of the 49ers and their fans, he ate turkey at the 50-yard line at Levi’s Stadium following a Thanksgiving night game in 2014.
Sherman said he never saw the incident as being disrespectful. Moreover, he said it was not even his idea. He was merely following the directions of an NBC-TV producer for the postgame show after the nationally televised game.
Sherman clearly envisions more national attention coming to the 49ers – in large part to the two key individuals on the team’s offensive side.
The 49ers were 5-0 in Garoppolo’s starts to close out the regular season.
“The way he played down the stretch was inspiring and incredible,” Sherman said of Garoppolo. “Quarterbacks can get hot for a limited amount of time. And the next year fall off the face of the earth and you never hear from them again. What I saw from him was consistency, I saw poise, I saw leadership. I saw respect of his teammates. I saw command of the offense and he’d only been there a few weeks.”
Sherman is also quite familiar with Shanahan’s offensive schemes from facing his teams with Washington, Atlanta and San Francisco.
“Kyle is one of the most innovative and creative offensive minds in football -- he and Sean McVay,” Sherman said. “He’s always coming up with two or three concepts that we’d never seen and had no answer for outside of some bastardizations of our defense. And that was on the field, spur of the moment, having three or four All-Pro players who can adjust on the fly that way. “
Sherman said he expects to be ready for the opening of training camp after undergoing season-ending surgery on his right Achilles in mid-November. He clarified that the other procedure he had recently was to remove bone spurs from his left foot.