Much has been said of the contract negotiations in March between the San Francisco 49ers and free agent cornerback Richard Sherman. It was tough for the Niner Faithful to envision him as an ally versus the Seattle Seahawks villain they have come to know.

More than two months have passed since Sherman officially inked his three-year deal with the 49ers. The idea of the cornerback suiting up in red and gold has become less of a shock — at least to 49ers fans. San Francisco was the first and only free agent visit during Sherman's illustrious NFL career. He had options, including a potential return to Seattle — for the right price. The Seahawks, however, could not match the incentives the 49ers were offering. Neither could the Detroit Lions or Oakland Raiders, who were also very interested.

General manager John Lynch understood that the 49ers had more things other teams could not offer.

"The ability to play Seattle twice a year," Lynch said.

Sherman won't get his first crack at the Seahawks, the team that released him a day before he signed with San Francisco, until late in the 2018 season — December 2 to be exact. That's when the 49ers travel to CenturyLink Field to play the Seahawks. The teams meet again two weeks later at Levi's Stadium.

Still, Sherman insists the matchups will merely be games on the 49ers' schedule — no more important than the other 14. What will it be like to return to CenturyLink Field, not only as a visitor but with a once-bitter rival?

"It's just going to be another day in the neighborhood," Sherman told Niner Noise this week. "I feel at home at both stadiums. It won't feel much different than any. I'll go up there and put on a show."

While fans are already excited about the storyline that comes with the matchups, Sherman won't admit to the games being any more important than the others.

"Yeah, it's going to be just another week," he continued. "We don't play them until late in the season, so I won't worry about that for a while. But when it comes, it will be another opponent we're trying to beat."

Sherman brings a lot of experience to a young 49ers secondary that includes second-year starting cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. Since Sherman is coming off of a ruptured Achilles sustained in November, he has had to contribute more as a mentor than anything else. What has that role been like for him?

"Well, I can't give them anything," Sherman said. "It takes work, diligence, and dedication. I'll give them tools that I have, the information and knowledge that I've received over the years. I can help anytime they want after practice or anytime during practice."

The 49ers hope Sherman's presence will help elevate the defense to a new level — assuming he returns to being the All-Pro cornerback who has often frustrated opposing quarterbacks. He hopes to be ready to hit the practice field with his new teammates next month while the 49ers have a less aggressive timeline of late July, which is when the team opens training camp.

You can read or listen to the entire interview with Sherman, who spoke with our friend Peter Penacy, over at Niner Noise.