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The 49ers just got their Draymond Green. It was an underrated “need” going into this offseason, and they checked the box when they agreed to a deal with cornerback Richard Sherman on Saturday.

Every contending sports team needs a Draymond — a player who is willing to get three inches from a teammate’s face and yell unkind critiques when he feels it’s warranted, the message perhaps attended by a few droplets of spittle.

The 49ers didn’t need a Draymond last year, because they never had a realistic chance of playing past the regular season. When a team is young and not very good, a forceful presence can hurt the locker-room chemistry more than help. Losing repeatedly, and being yelled at for it, isn’t a model that works for a lot of developing athletes.

But the 49ers are beyond that now. They won their six their last seven games in 2017. They have tons of cap room and a quarterback the entire NFL is in love with. We can have every right to expect them to compete for a playoff spot in 2018. And they may need a Draymond or two to get there.

Before last weekend, who fit this role in Santa Clara? Safety Eric Reid was frequently the guy whom the 49ers gathered around for pregame revival meetings. Reid is inspirational, but I don’t know if he has enough edge to call out underachieving or uncaring teammates. Also, he’s a free agent with no guarantee of returning. Linebacker Reuben Foster, a rookie last year, has the passion, and the talent to back it up. But legal missteps have undermined his moral authority.

The most likely candidate was left tackle Joe Staley, who has played 11 seasons with the 49ers. Staley is tough as copper cable, one of the best players on the team and still plays with great emotion, even at 33. If the 49ers had a come-to-Jesus moment, Staley could do the thumping. But it isn’t necessarily his true personality. Staley is too pleasant to slide into the taskmaster role naturally. Anyway, it’s good to have an enforcer on both offense and defense.

So here comes Sherman, the former Stanford and Seattle Seahawks cornerback who signed a three-year contract with his former nemeses.

Sherman arrived in the NFL talking at high volume, and he has yet to dial it down. He plays with an anger more suited to middle linebacker, or marauding Hun, and that ire has occasionally been directed at guys in the same uniforms. In October of 2016, he was restrained by several defensive teammates after shouting at Seattle defensive back DeShawn Shead on the sideline. Two months after that, Sherman had angry words for head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell when he didn’t like the play calling.

I’m not saying it’s great to lash out at your own team. In fact, it is usually a sign of dysfunction. But sometimes it’s a necessary corrective. It lets everyone know they are accountable and subject to a public whipping if they fail to execute their assignments. A sports team needs a certain degree of creative tension — not too much, and not too little.

Draymond Green, the Warriors’ stormy power forward, keeps this tension properly tuned on the Warriors. And Sherman will do so in Santa Clara.

There’s no artifice in it, either. Sherman seems to be a happy soul when he’s off the field. When he plays, though, he’s always about a half-step away from full-blown fury.

On a conference call Monday, I asked Sherman about playing with a chip on his shoulder, and whether getting cut by the Seahawks will feed into it.

“Oh, definitely,” he said. “And like you said, I’ve always played that way. But this is kind of reigniting that gasoline fire that I’ve always had burning. It just threw a lot more gas on it, and I appreciate that. … Yeah, I got a lot of people to show. I’m excited at those prospects. Like I told John and Paraag and Kyle, I got a little something in my neck when I feel disrespected or slighted, and I use any way of showing that when I play.”

The 49ers have seen more of Sherman’s cramped neck than anyone. He had a personal beef with Jim Harbaugh dating back to their shared days at Stanford, and he and the 49ers coach became NFC West antagonists.

Sherman’s disregard for the 49ers erupted after the 2013 NFC championship game at Seattle, a contest he sealed by tipping Colin Kaepernick’s end-zone pass into the arms of Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith with 22 seconds left. The Hawks were headed to the Super Bowl for the first time. Sherman was the king of football. But when Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews flagged him down for a postgame interview, he was in a state of rage. He railed at the 49ers for daring to test him with a “sorry” wide receiver like Michael Crabtree, and warned Crabtree, “Don’t you ever talk about me!”

It was never entirely clear what Crabtree ever said about Sherman. And honestly, if the receiver had said nothing at all, Sherman might have invented a slight to get his own hackles up.

The most enduring image of Sherman for 49ers fans, though, is from a Thanksgiving game at Levi’s Stadium in 2014. It was a humiliating evening for the Niners. They were thumped 19-3 by the visiting Seahawks, falling into second place. In the aftermath of the game, 49ers CEO Jed York apologized to fans for the team’s play, and the teenage daughter of general manager Trent Baalke tweeted an insult at offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

And as gloom settled over Levi’s, Sherman and Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson sat at midfield with NBC’s Michele Tafoya and happily chomped on turkey drumsticks. The scene was surreal.

Sherman explained on the conference call that the NBC producers surprised him and Wilson with the setup, and all the players did was follow along.

“You’re excited after a game, you’re winning,” he said. “You’re not really thinking of anything else, honestly. Just kind of enjoying the moment. Played pretty well that game. I honestly didn’t think of anything disrespectful. But people can take it how they want to.”

People took it as disrespectful — as least they did around here. But 49ers fans are about to learn that Richard Sherman never hated their team. He never hated any team. He’s simply mad at the world, every time he snaps his chinstrap to his helmet. He’s mad about falling to the fifth round of the 2011 draft, and about the quarterbacks who didn’t take him seriously at first, and about the opposing fans who tell him to shut up. Anger is what propels him. It’s his sustenance.

This anger will help his new team, even if Sherman — nearly 30 years old and coming back from a torn Achilles’ tendon — proves not to be the player he was two or three years ago. He probably isn’t done yelling at 49ers, and that’s a good thing.

You can reach columnist Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Skinny_Post.

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