Richard Sherman Comfortable and Confident in Introductory Presser
SANTA CLARA — Richard Sherman, the new 49er, entered the press conference room at Levi’s Stadium dripping with his usual swagger, complete with a telling smile and a very bright red suit. The mischievous twinkle in Sherman’s eye further illustrated his self-awareness of this bizarro, yet compelling reality. Richard Sherman is a 49er.
The Seahawks dumped Sherman and mostly driven by opportunity but partly driven by vengeance he now plays for his former bitter rival, a four-year duel for which he was the centerpiece of bitterness. Spurned by Seattle, Sherman wanted to be wanted and it so happens the 49ers moved the first pawn.
“Kyle and John reached out within 5-10 minutes of the news hitting the wire. Having that kind of respect means a lot to me,” he said. “The want of the team. A team showing you that they want you, that they value you. Obviously Seattle showed they didn’t value me as much.“
Sherman is resolute in his future but his harbored feelings toward Seattle add a fascinating twist in a suddenly renewed rivalry. That signature Sherman honestly already makes the new optics feel a little less strange, though Richard Sherman as a 49er will, of course, take some getting used to.
Sherman’s presence in Santa Clara and the memories they invoke are a reminder that the last wave of 49ers greatness was not quite as long ago as it seems. It was just four years ago that Sherman’s batted pass intended for Michael Crabtree that led to a game-sealing interception in the NFC Championship sent the Seahawks to the Super Bowl and the 49ers into a downward spiral.
But one look around the room and an audience that included owner Jed York, GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan and it was clear the ghosts of Jim Harbaugh, his succeeding misfit coaches, and Trent Baalke have long been buried.
It was this new regime that highly appealed to Sherman, who said he wouldn’t have taken the visit with San Francisco if he wasn’t comfortable with what they offered as an organization and a team.
“It’s John and Kyle: “They brought stability. They brought fun,” Sherman said. “They brought belief. They brought faith. The players believe they can win. The players believe in the staff.”
Sherman continued on the appeal of the 49ers and updated his own health – he confidently said he’ll be “back on the field in May or June” after rupturing his Achilles. But as is typical Sherman the highly enlightened person, not the player eventually took center stage.
Sherman’s aura and intellectual firepower is so fierce that you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone as eager to eloquently talk about myriad issues. He applauded his new team for being at the forefront on supporting player activism but dismissed the notion that it had an impact on his decision. Sherman, who relishes his role as a member of the NFLPA’s executive player committee of the union, would never put himself in a position that came with a muzzle.
Sherman went on to firmly express his thoughts on the unemployment of former 49ers safety Eric Reid, a free agent who has kneeled for the anthem for two seasons.
“We are concerned. He played at a high level. I would think he’s top 5, top 10 safeties in this league, and he deserves to be paid accordingly. You would think a player of his caliber would be picked up by now.”
Sherman hopes a team will sign Reid but said if that doesn’t happen, legal action will be the next step.
The new 49ers corner was just as direct when asked about negotiating his own contract with San Francisco – a three-year, highly-incentive laden deal worth up to $39.15 million. Despite his deal receiving mass criticism, Sherman hopes to be a leader in making players doubling as agents a trend.
“There are some agents that negotiate a deal in 2006 and don’t talk to their client again until 2010, and that’s what we want to avoid.”
As Sherman wrapped up, the 49ers logos behind him became less pronounced. San Francisco is an obvious good fit with a young team on the rise and a locked up franchise quarterback. He will also reunite with 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh who was a Seahawks defensive coach from 2011-2013 and has a scheme which Sherman says, “I know like the back of my hand, the front of my hand.” He and his fiancée, Ashley, will remain on the West Coast where there are comfortable. And yes, he gets to face Seattle twice a year.
But as Sherman proved in his presser, as he proves in most conversations, and as he wrote for Player’s Tribune, his calling in this league is much higher than finding ideal logistics. Yes, he is Richard Sherman, the improbable, new 49er. But more importantly, he is distinctly Richard Sherman.