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Are the San Francisco 49ers about to sign Richard Sherman?

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49ers Richard Sherman
© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan wined-and-dined former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who is scheduled to meet with the team in Santa Clara today. Are the Niners really going to sign their former archnemesis?

 

This is not a test.

On Friday, the Seattle Seahawks released cornerback Richard Sherman in a move that was not unexpected, due to the Seahawks’ salary cap situation, and Sherman’s inflated contract. But then it got interesting.

First came the report that San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan met with Sherman and his wife over dinner Friday evening, per Marcus Thompson of The Athletic:

“According to somebody who was at the restaurant, Shanahan dined with Sherman and his wife at Nick’s Next Door restaurant in Los Gatos tonight. It seems the courting may have already begun.”

Then came the news that Sherman will meet with the 49ers today in Santa Clara:

Richard Sherman in red and gold? I know what you’re thinking, because every Niners fan is thinking it. You remember the Erin Andrews interview and the “Bye, Felisha” video. Sherman represents everything you hate about the Seattle Seahawks. No one in the history of the NFL is as good as Sherman thinks he is — and he’ll let you know every chance he gets.

But let’s put emotion aside — would Sherman be a good fit for the 49ers? He certainly fits their defensive system; in many ways, the 49ers’ defensive system was built specifically for Sherman. But while he may have been the system’s prototypical cornerback in 2012, Sherman turns 30 this month. Even in his early 20s, Sherman was slow by cornerback standards, but made up for his lack of speed with his intelligence, physicality and ball skills. He’ll soon be on the wrong side of 30, and is still recovering from a November Achilles injury — if he loses a step, it will be difficult for him to continue to compete at the NFL level, and certainly at the level consistent with his likely salary demands. While he is no longer considered elite — he was Pro Football Focus33rd best cornerback in 2017, and his PFF grade has decreased in each of the past three seasons — a healthy Sherman is likely the 49ers’ best cornerback fit in the free-agent market.

Still, could Niner fans stomach the sight of Sherman in a 49ers jersey? Well, there’s one fanbase that would enjoy it even less:

Perhaps that’s reason enough to make the deal.

Chris Wilson is the Lead Writer for Locked on 49ers - part of the Locked On Podcast Network. You may have seen Chris Wilson’s work on NFL game theory, statistical analysis and film breakdowns at FanSided, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, ClutchPoints, Insidethe49 and others. Follow Chris Wilson on Twitter @cgawilson.

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