Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports


Will Sherman’s Personality Mesh with 49ers Locker Room?

Mar 11, 2018 at 10:20 AM


"You mad, bro?" Forget that Richard Sherman personified the archetype villain to 49er fans the moment he tipped a last-ditch effort pass to Michael Crabtree in the 2013 NFC Championship Game, then made a "choke" gesture to Colin Kaepernick, the dejected 49ers bench, and the rest of the entire football-watching world. How about the fact that the 49ers brass just spent a reported $39 million over three years on a cornerback that is turning 30 later this month and is coming off of one Achilles tendon tear in one leg and a bone spur "clean up" in the other?

Didn't the 49ers just release NaVorro Bowman (you know, the iconic former face of the franchise in part due to his heroics in that same game) after roughly the same injury and at roughly the same age? So what's the difference? Maybe Sherman passed the physical with flying colors and Bowman had question marks. We may never know that side of it. Is it worth the risk to find out?

No doubt, it's a gamble...but not financially. The 49ers have more than enough cap space to accommodate such a move and, more than likely, a large chunk of that $39 million will be tied to hard-to-reach incentives anyway. It may not be as big of a financial risk as it initially seemed, if the contract is in any way similar to what we've seen in the past from Chief Contract Negotiator, Paraag Marathe. We'll know more once the complete details of the contract are made public.

No, the risk is in how this will affect the dynamics of the locker room. Teammates revered Bowman for his work ethic and resiliency following career-threatening injuries. And yet he was still expendable. He wasn't exactly quiet...he let his hard-hitting play speak for him; but he also definitely wasn't a brash, outspoken instigator that you could imagine boastfully prancing and gesticulating toward an opponent's sideline after they just endured a heart-wrenching loss.

That sort of swagger was reserved solely for 49ers Public Enemy No. 1, Richard Sherman. And like it or not, he consistently delivered on his trash talk. Since being drafted out of Stanford in 2011, NFL research shows that Sherman leads the league in interceptions (32), passes defensed (99), lowest completion percentage allowed (47.4%) and lowest passer rating allowed (50.9). The four-time consecutive Pro Bowler has (had?) game. But so did Darrelle Revis.

The real question to me is, how will an aging veteran coming off a major injury and two surgeries deal with it when he might not be able to back up all that infamous trash talk anymore? Will he divide a young and impressionable locker room? Will he start blaming other players, coaches, zodiac alignments...anyone but himself if he doesn't bounce back the way he (and the 49ers front office) expects? Will he implode?

As the guy who saw this as a possible dark horse signing, my guess is no. Yes, Sherman may seem mercurial but I believe his schtick has been much more calculated than most think. He's an intelligent, savvy, playmaker that has been praised for his ability to take young players under his arm in Seattle and help develop them.

At worse, he's leaps and bounds better than the liability that was Dontae Johnson last year. At best, he plays at the same level he was pre-injury and helps the 49ers forge the identity they are looking to make under Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh. No one knows this 3 Deep Zone defense better than Sherman; he helped create it when Saleh was still an assistant in Seattle. And, in this writer's opinion, he's a much better (and cheaper) signing than Trumaine Johnson would have been.

That doesn't mean the 49ers are done yet. The smart move is to still draft another corner to develop...they just won't have to do it in the early rounds now if they don't see an ideal fit. And for my next prediction, I also see the 49ers going after one of Saleh's former players in Jacksonville in free agency, Aaron Colvin. He's young, plays the same defense, and won't come at a huge price. Book it.

Poll

  • Will signing Richard Sherman help or hurt the 49ers?
  • Help
    81%
  • Undecided
    13%
  • Hurt
    5%
  • 755 votes
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


8 Comments

  • Niner
    No. Seattle got rid of him because hes hurt , a loud mouth and a media hound. He and foster are going to show lynch why gms go after high character guys. Talent is cliche.....ask jamarcus russuel todd marionvich, manzeil, etc...
    Mar 21, 2018 at 9:37 PM
    0
  • Scott
    The 2 best things about this move is that we don't have to play against him and secondly it will drive the 1&2 man insane. Burning his Jersey is Great too, because they are lighting a fire under him to own Wilson.
    Mar 12, 2018 at 5:38 AM
    0
  • Hugh
    Richard Sherman and the 49ers are both in rebuilding mode. This deal, which will only cost the 49ers a few million this year, gives both of them a chance to find out where they are in their rebuilds and how well they fit, is smart. I agree that Richard Sherman is smart and uses his antics to throw competitors off their game. He is also a fierce competitor who pushes himself and everyone around him to win. That is what the young players have been teaching themselves. Richard Sherman should do wonderfully as a proven leader in the locker room. I expect Sherman to be back to form in the second half of the season. With luck, Foster will be settling in and learning to play without breaking his body by then. That will set the tone for 2019, when the rebuilding should be complete. Again, I think having Sherman on hand will be a positive influence on the defense as a whole and Foster in particular.
    Mar 11, 2018 at 10:06 PM
    0
  • Ralphj
    We still have kuwan williams at nickel cb.. I think we should go after tremaine Edmunds or Roquan smith Easy decision
    Mar 11, 2018 at 7:47 PM
    0
  • matt huse
    so we find out that the contract is incentive/performance based.... go 9ers!!
    Mar 11, 2018 at 11:08 AM
    1
    Response: Had a feeling that would be the case. How many times have we seen contracts look bloated when they are first "leaked" to the media, only to find out they typically only pay out a portion of the originally reported amount? Looking more and more like a great signing for the 49ers.
  • Electric
    If helps us win those close games then he's worth the risk.
    Mar 11, 2018 at 10:57 AM
    2
  • Landlord
    There are NFL players that are spouse abusers, repeat drunken drivers and horrible role models. Although Richard is opinionated, and he has tortured the Faithful like no other, he is not a bad person and can only help a young defence.
    Mar 11, 2018 at 10:48 AM
    5
    Response: This is an excellent point. Yes, he is certainly opinionated and has tortured the Niner Faithful with his play for years, but he has never been in trouble with the law or in violation of league policy. Reuben Foster could learn a lot from him...hopefully.
  • Daniners
    It's low risk gamble for a potential all-star talent. No downside at all. Plus, it takes away from Seattle.
    Mar 11, 2018 at 10:28 AM
    5
    Response: Totally agree. And I think we'll see once more details of the contract come out, it'll be a low-cost gamble too. Certainly cheaper than Trumaine Johnson would have been.

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