The San Francisco 49ers decision to sign cornerback Richard Sherman certainly got tongues wagging over the past 24 hours. The team entered the offseason with a serious need at the cornerback position, and the team clearly thinks Sherman has enough left in the tank for at least one more year.
At the same time, the 49ers just signed the face of their heated 2012-2014 rivalry. 49ers fans have had plenty of player rivals over the years, but Sherman is among the highest on the list. Sure, we can point to members of the Dallas Cowboys or New York Giants, but in this age of social media and instant reaction and the 24/7 news cycle, the 49ers rivalry with Sherman and the Seahawks felt incredibly heated for fans.
And now, 49ers fans have to reconcile themselves with the arrival of a once hated rival. This does not apply to all fans, by any means, but it is going to be an interesting road over the next year or more. Former Field Gulls editor Danny Kelly made a great point about what 49ers fans will have to reconcile with when Sherman steps on the field.
Gonna be a weird wave of emotions niner fans go thru when Sherman holds a WR and picks off a pass and some other fanbase bitches about it— Danny Kelly (@DannyBKelly) March 11, 2018
Sherman is a big talker, but his physical style of play was something that was always an easy thing to complain about. Grabby cornerbacks are nothing new, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was not a single game where somebody did not complain in some way about Sherman getting too physical with a receiver.
Generally, I think fans will overlook this kind of stuff. We complain about another team’s seemingly questionable style of play, but when our own team gets away with it, we get excited about pushing the limits. However, for many 49ers fans, Sherman has been the face of that physical style that has generated plenty of complaints. It really shouldn’t matter, but I have to think it will be a weird feeling for a lot of 49ers fans when Sherman gets that first interception after getting grabby with the receiver and not getting flagged. The comments here and on Twitter are going to be something to behold.