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Richard Sherman opens up about defecting to 49ers

SANTA CLARA — Richard Sherman spoke Monday for the first time as a Seahawks-turned-49ers loudspeaker.
While a poor connection with background noise garbled the media conference call, Sherman voiced no frustration and instead offered explanatory and pensive answers, from extolling the virtues of Jimmy Garoppolo to meaning no disrespect for a Thanksgiving 2014 turkey-eating scene after beating the host 49ers.
“(NBC producers) kind of pushed it out there and said, ‘Eat the turkey.’ I wasn’t thinking anything else. I was enjoying the moment,” Sherman recalled. “I played pretty good. I didn’t think it was disrespectful. People can think of it any way they want to.”
His decibels may never roar as high as after he ruined the 2013 49ers’ Super Bowl hopes in Seattle. And he’s more articulate and poignant than people realize, or perhaps more than 49ers fans were willing to accept the past seven years.
So when Sherman speaks, people listen, and that is something the 49ers will have to adjust to in a locker room that grew admirably tight amid last season’s adversity (0-9 start) and eventual triumph (5-0 finish).
Garoppolo fueled that closing act, and with him locked in last month on a NFL-record contract, his presence helped lure Sherman,
“That had a huge part. The way he played down the stretch was inspiring, it was incredible,” Sherman said. “Sometimes quarterbacks can get hot and the next year fall off the face of the Earth and you do not hear from them again. I saw poise, I saw leadership, I saw respect from teammates, and I saw command of the offense in a short time.”
Sherman saw more to the 49ers than Garoppolo. He’s familiar with the defensive scheme and the coordinator running it, Robert Saleh, a former Seahawks assistant who joined Sherman, Sherman’s fiancee Ashley and Kyle Shanahan at Friday night’s recruitment dinner in Los Gatos.
As much as he raved about Shanahan’s coaching credentials and a familiarity general manager John Lynch (fellow Stanford graduate), Sherman did not ignore his desire to take on the Seahawks twice a year.
“I’m going to try my best to ruin their day. I want a chance to show what I can do up there,” Sherman said.
Released Friday with a failed physical designation, Sherman met only with the 49ers, and after hammering out his own deal over a five-hour session with contract czar Paraag Marathe, Sherman gave the Seahawks a chance to match it, and he also gauged the interest of the Raiders and Detroit Lions.
Sherman said of his call to Seahawks general manager John Schneider: “They said they wouldn’t be able to match that and he thought it was a solid deal. He though there was some things I could do with roster bonuses. But I felt comfortable with being able to achieve that.”
Sherman agreed to the incentive-laden deal on Saturday and signed that contract Sunday. It gives him only a $3 million signing bonus, but another $2 million if he’s medically cleared come training camp as well as a $2 million base salary for 2018. Incentives and bonuses could push the deal to $39 million, but only if he reverts to All-Pro form.
Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after making an interception in the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on September 15, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 29-3. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) 
“It’s a little odd to put on a different jersey in general,” Sherman began. “It will take some getting used to for me. I spent a lot of time wearing a red (Stanford) jersey in the Bay, so I’m sure I’ll figure it out.”
No one knows for sure how healthy Sherman can come back from last November’s right Achilles tear, plus a procedure earlier this year to remove bone spurs from his left ankle.
No one knows for sure how Sherman’s voice will represent this new era of 49ers football. Will he be an egotistical loudmouth or a sage voice of reason, or a perfect blend of both, or just a humbled customer in the 2018 drive-through lane?
Sherman at least brings swagger to a 49ers franchise filled with promising but mostly humble and low-key stars. Garoppolo and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, cornerstones for the 49ers’ future, are not microphone MVPs, nor is that required.
This franchise just emerged from a maelstrom of distracting noise, starting with the echoes of Sherman’s vociferous taunts after the 2013 season’s NFC Championship Game.
In 2014, Jim Harbaugh’s forced exit loomed like a dark cloud. In 2015, there was Jim Tomsula’s trainwreck of a promotion, Colin Kaepernick’s benching-then-surgery, and Australian ambassador Jarryd Hayne’s rugby-to-NFL experiment. In 2016, Kaepernick led others to kneel for the national anthem before he and Chip Kelly were jettisoned from the NFL.
Playing the Seahawks twice this season might give Sherman a taste of vengeance he craves. That leaves 14 other games, however, for him to make a deeper impact for a 49ers franchise he’s tormented as their hated rival since 2011.
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Sherman, who turns 30 on March 30, gave an optimistic prognosis on his comeback from last November’s right Achilles tear. He has six months until the season starts, and that is ample time to get healthy and also mesh with a locker room that grew tight among last season’s adversity (0-9 start) and triumph (5-0 finish).
Stanford’s Richard Sherman talks up the crowd after making an interception in the first quarter at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif. on Saturday, November 20, 2010. The Stanford Cardinal played the Cal Bears. (Jim Gensheimer/Mercury News) 
Sherman knows what he’s getting into, both on the 49ers and in the Bay Area. He’s come a long way since his days as a receiver-turned-cornerback at Stanford. And he’s as ambitious as ever.

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