49ers’ signing of Sherman is a stellar move

Photo credit: @NFL

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Contributor

Not like the San Francisco 49ers needed any validation from this guy typing here, but the signing of cornerback Richard Sherman was a huge win for the organization and for Sherman.

According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Sherman and the 49ers came to terms on a three-year deal worth $39.15 million on Saturday after five hours of negotiating. Sources also mentioned that Sherman represented himself during those negotiations.

News broke out Friday that Sherman was having dinner with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and spent most of Saturday meeting with team officials in Santa Clara, where he also took a physical.

He became a free agent once the Seattle Seahawks released the veteran cornerback Friday to avoid paying the $11 million salary he was due in 2018. It will be very weird at first to see Sherman don the Red and Gold this season after spending his first six seasons in Seattle tormenting the 49ers for much of that time.

While in Seattle, Sherman was voted First-Team All-Pro three times and voted to the Pro Bowl four times and alongside safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, formed the feared “Legion of Boom” secondary. From 2012-16, Seattle led the NFL in scoring defense for four straight seasons.

Sherman, the 6-foot-3, 195 pound cornerback, will turn 30 on March 30, is coming off a torn right Achilles tendon suffered in November that limited him to just nine games. It was the first time in his career that Sherman didn’t play a full 16-game schedule. The original timetable for Sherman’s return to football-related activities was 6-to-8 months, which would make him available by mid-May to early-July.

Since entering the NFL out of Stanford in 2011, Sherman leads the league with 32 interceptions and 99 passes defended.  Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 47.4 percent of their passes with a 50.9 passer rating, which is first in the NFL among cornerbacks with a min of 300 targets in coverage according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Jacksonville’s A.J. Bouye (54.9), Los Angeles Chargers’ Casey Hayward (57.7), Los Angeles Rams’ Marcus Peters (60.7), and the retired Darrelle Revis (66.0) round out the top five.

Sherman is long and rangy with extreme football smarts that makes him one of the more feared cornerbacks in the game today, when healthy.

Sherman arguably made the biggest play in Seahawks history in the final minute of the NFC Championship game in January 2014 when he deflected a Colin Kaepernick pass intended for wide receiver Michael Crabtree in the end zone. Linebacker Malcolm Smith, now with the 49ers, intercepted the pass which sealed Seattle’s second NFC title and propelled the organization to its first and only Super Bowl title.

That season, Sherman finished with a career-high eight interceptions.

Since that game, the 49ers have lost nine straight head-to-head matchups with their bitter rivals from the Pacific Northwest.

With Sherman on board, the 49ers have a veteran cornerback that they can pair with Ahkello Witherspoon, who had a strong rookie season with two interceptions and seven pass breakups. At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Witherspoon is similar in size to Sherman.

Outside of the promising Witherspoon, the 49ers didn’t have a premier cornerback on the roster last season. By signing Sherman, the 49ers filled one of their biggest holes heading into this offseason and gives the team  a legitimate cornerback that opposing offenses will need to account for.

After watching their divisional rival the Los Angeles Rams add two top-flight cornerbacks in Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib in separate trades within the last two weeks, landing Sherman wasn’t a bad fallback plan for the 49ers and the vocal Sherman, who wanted to play for “a contender.”

With just over $70 million in salary cap space according to Overthecap.com, the 49ers can still address the offensive line and remain play for former Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who is an unrestricted free agent and the most coveted cornerback on the market.

The 49ers are expected to be one of the better story-lines heading into the 2018 season and have just gotten more interesting with the addition of Sherman, who gets to remain in the NFC West and face Seattle twice a year.

A win for Sherman, who will play with the ultimate chip on his shoulder, especially in those matchups. Motivation can be fuel for anyone. For Sherman, who many believe has lost a step due to the Achilles injuries (he had a “procedure” to clean up his left Achilles this offseason too), will be out to prove that he is still the best cornerback in football.