Ten minutes before Richard Sherman’s introductory conference call with the 49ers, he was thinking about his former team, the Seattle Seahawks.
“Instead of getting upset with me for a going to a new team,” Sherman tweeted, “how about you get upset with the people who forced me to go. If one job fires you and another job offers you a great position I highly doubt most (people) would go back to the old job for a lot less money.”
Sherman clearly didn’t want to leave Seattle.
The Seahawks made him leave. Released him on March 9. Sherman ruptured his right Achilles tendon Nov. 9 in a game against the Arizona Cardinals, and required surgery. On March 1, he had a second Achilles surgery, this time on his left Achilles. He will turn 30 on March 30.
The Seahawks didn’t want him anymore.
The 49ers didn’t want him, either. Not initially. They wanted veteran cornerback Aqib Talib, even agreed to trade a fourth-round draft pick in 2019 to the Denver Broncos for Talib — the deal was done in principle. But, Talib nixed the deal. Refused to play for the 49ers. So, the deal fell through, and the Broncos traded Talib to the LA Rams instead. That was March 8.
The next day, the Seahawks released Sherman. And that’s when the 49ers became interested in him.
“They reached out almost immediately after I hit the wire,” Sherman told Bay Area reporters on Monday. “I really appreciated that, because it showed their commitment, their excitement to have a chance to bring me on board.
“Not too long after that, I got on a plane to San Francisco. I had dinner with (head coach) Kyle (Shanahan) and his wife. (Defensive coordinator) Robert Saleh came out. It felt natural. It felt good on both sides.
“The next day, I went and got the medicals on the Achilles, met with the doctors so that they could do their due diligence. Then, about two or so hours after that, I met up with (general manager) John (Lynch), who picked my fiancée and me up from the hotel.
“We went with him and (Chief Strategy Officer) Paraag (Marathe) to (Lynch’s) office. We sat there and haggled for about five, five-and-a-half hours. Neither side really wanted to walk away without a deal, because we felt there was a great relationship and a great understanding and something that both sides can benefit from. And we came to agreement.”
Sherman negotiated the contract himself — he did not use an agent. And he didn’t visit any other teams, although he spoke with the Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions.
Sherman’s contract with the 49ers theoretically could pay him up to $39 million through 2020, but guarantees him only $3 million, a big difference. And the 49ers easily can cut him after 2018. Doing so would create only $2 million of dead cap space in 2019, and $1 million of dead cap space in 2020. Insignificant penalties.
On the conference call, Sherman explained why he felt so motivated to join the 49ers.
“Would love to get to play in (the Seahawks) stadium again, obviously wearing different colors, trying my best to ruin their day, perhaps. I want a chance to show what I can do. I’m very comfortable in this conference.”