SANTA CLARA -- There’s a different vibe around 49ers headquarters, and Richard Sherman explained it’s all a part of the team’s growth.
After only winning 10 games in two seasons, the 49ers were the sleeper team in 2019. Now after coming within minutes of hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LIV, they're the team everyone has in the crosshairs heading into 2020.
There are still plenty of laughs around the facility. George Kittle hasn’t let up on giving Jimmy Garoppolo a hard time, and Kendrick Bourne is still seen dancing around the practice field.
Yet, there is an intangible difference.
“It comes with the burden of expectation,” Sherman said Friday. “I think ignorance is bliss at times. When you know better, you do better, and I think that’s the case.”
The players have denied the possibility of a Super Bowl hangover, and maybe that could be true with an extended offseason. Practices during the first few weeks of training camp have been spirited and energetic.
One of the only benefits of the coronavirus pandemic wiping away the offseason program was giving players extra time to heal and rejuvenate their bodies. No one appeared to have reported to camp out of shape. No one seems to have lost focus.
“There are still a ton of laughs, and there’s guys having a blast playing football,” Sherman said. “But the mistakes, people are being held accountable more often and making them less. In order to make less mistakes and be more accountable, you have to be locked in.
“When you have 22 players on the field locked in every play, you see less laughs because everybody is trying to get their job done at the highest level possible.”
Small mistakes are what kept the 49ers off of the winners' podium at Hard Rock Stadium in February. Now, they're seeking revenge.
There will be fun along the way, but the 49ers are aware they're no longer the team with nothing to lose.
“I think as a team, reaching the heights that we reached last, I think they see the potential we could be at, and they want to do everything they can to get there again.”