San Francisco 49ers Should Move Boldly, Deal For Richard Sherman

Oct 16, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) defends a pass intended for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Atlanta, 26-24. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 16, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) defends a pass intended for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Atlanta, 26-24. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

The San Francisco 49ers are rebuilding on the fly, but still have plenty of holes that need to be addressed – and they can address a big hole by dealing for a veteran cornerback.

With 21 new players on the roster, the San Francisco 49ers are in the midst of sweeping changes to an organization that’s won just 15 games over the past three seasons – not to mention, has now had three head coaches over that span – change is not a bad thing. In fact, change should be welcomed.

And with HC Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch focused on improving and upgrading this roster across the board, they should make a bold move and trade for Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman.

With Jimmie Ward and Dontae Johnson penciled in to be San Francisco’s starting corners, adding Sherman to that group would be a big upgrade. A big, instant upgrade.

Last season, the 49ers ranked dead last in the league in yards allowed, surrendering 6,502 – an average of just over 400 yards per game. The more telling statistic though, might be the fact that San Francisco gave up an average of 6.9 yards per passing play as well as a pretty eye-popping 30 touchdowns through the air – which made them the twenty-eighth and twenty-fifth best unit, respectively, last year.

Clearly, some upgrades to the secondary are much needed.

In Sherman, they’d be getting an established veteran, who has a very, very solid track record on the field. A player who’s been a key component on a defense that’s been one of the better units in the league for some time now.

A player whose 30 interceptions and 97 passes defensed since 2011 are – by far – the highest in the league since he was drafted in 2011. As a means of comparison, number two on that list is Arizona’s Patrick Peterson who has 20 picks over that same span of time.

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And given that this defensive unit had just 10 total interceptions last season, it would seem that they can use another playmaker on the field.

Of course, the stumbling block – as it always is – will come down to salary and compensation. The 49ers though, still have plenty of space under the cap and would easily be able to absorb $13 million dollar salary – this year and in 2018. Salary cap space isn’t going to be the problem.

san francisco 49ers
Oct 23, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The problem will come in Seattle’s asking price for Sherman. Varying reports have the Seahawks asking for a player and a high draft pick. Although, it’s been recently suggested that Seattle is willing to lower the price tag on their star corner and will settle for a high draft pick this year and a conditional mid-round pick next year.

However, with nobody biting as of yet, there is always the possibility that the 49ers could dangle that second overall pick in front of the the Seahawks and land one of the league’s best corners. A corner who, with just six years of NFL experience, is still in his prime.

If San Francisco were to dangle that second pick as trade bait, HC Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider might find it too tempting to pass up.

There is also a scenario by which the 49ers could still come out even a bit more ahead of the game. In theory, they could of course, work a Draft Day deal to move down in the first round. The Carolina Panthers, picking eighth, are rumored to be highly interested in moving up to number two.

If they were able to work a deal with one of the other clubs in the top-ten of the Draft order, they could add maybe a second round pick to their cabinet – more, if they’re really shrewd about it – and still have a pick the Seahawks – who aren’t picking until 26 – would covet.

Then, when they’re on the clock, they work a deal with Seattle for Sherman.

For that second overall pick, they would be getting an established, elite NFL cornerback – and possibly an additional second and/or third round pick, depending on how shrewd they are. There would be no growing pains or learning curve for a young talent and they would fill a critical need.

If they were to make a bold move like that, the 49ers would fortify a secondary in real need of some help and also make the defense better overall.

Of course, if you wanted to look at it another, more pessimistic way, Sherman has only two years left on his deal. They’d be exchanging that second overall pick – possibly – for just two seasons, instead of using that pick on a younger player who’ll be with the club – and cheaper – for at least four seasons, given the nature of rookie deals today.

But by the time Sherman’s deal expires following the 2018 season, it’s possible that the team could convince him to do a new deal with them. Or, as he gets set to enter his ninth season in the league, perhaps the 49ers’ secondary will be in good enough shape that they can let him walk.

Sherman has made his preferences known – he wants to play for a contender. He doesn’t want to go to a team in the middle of a rebuilding process. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t really have a whole lot of leverage other than the goodwill of the Seahawks’ organization. They have him under contract for two more seasons, so ultimately, he doesn’t have control over his final destination.

As we all know by now, football can be a cold, ruthless business. And making a deal that swaps a player who doesn’t want to play for you anymore for a high, top-ten draft pick, could prove to be to good and make too much sense for the Seahawks to pass up.

Sherman is eccentric and outspoken – but he’s also really, really good on the field. He could be just the kind of cornerstone Shanahan and Lynch need to start building this defense around.