How the Richard Sherman Signing Affects the 49ers’ Approach to Free Agency

In a very strange turn of events, the San Francisco 49ers have acquired perhaps their fiercest rival in cornerback Richard Sherman. It’s a move that has the 49er Faithful confused and conflicted as they remember the 2013 NFC Championship Game when he and current 49er teammate Malcom Smith ended San Francisco’s chance at getting back to the Super bowl. When the dust settles, however, all will see just how good of a signing this is.

What does Sherman’s contract look like?

Pro Football Focus has broken down the numbers on the 3 year, $39 million contract. It’s actually very incentive-based and only escalates if Sherman makes the Pro Bowl. Here are a few of the highlights:

1) The signing bonus is $3 million, not $5 million.

2) The base salary for 2018 is, as previously reported, $2 million.

3) There’s a $2 million incentive for being named to the Associated Press All-Pro team, which is harder to qualify for than the Pro Bowl, since it covers the full league, not one conference.

4) To get the full $39.15 million, Sherman will need to play all 48 regular-season games over the next three years, be on the field for at least 90 percent of the snaps, make it to the Pro Bowl every year, and qualify for the All-Pro team every year.

As Niners Nation puts it, “Richard Sherman is betting on himself quite a bit.”

How will Sherman’s signing affect Free Agency for the 49ers?

Going into the offseason, the 49ers needed to find an elite corner, an edge rusher, another linebacker, offensive guard, running back and possibly a wide receiver.

In Sherman, the 49ers have found their elite corner, who is probably still top-five. They no longer have to worry about targeting Malcom Butler, Trumaine Johnson, Prince Amukamara, or the like. Butler and Johnson would have cost more and are not as good as Sherman, assuming he’s healthy, which it looks like he will be.

They can now focus on attaining a top receiver like Allen Robinson, who could be in San Francisco’s plan and agree to sign as early as Monday.

It means they can focus on looking into a guard like Josh Sitton, who is still one of the top guards in the NFL. Sitton would solidify the interior line very quickly and with the amount of quality guards in this year’s Draft, the offensive line should not be a liability in 2018.

The 49ers have enough cap space to sign players like Sitton, Robinson, and a running back like Jerick McKinnon, Dion Lewis, or Isaiah Crowell, and still have plenty of room.

If I were to make a prediction, the 49ers will pick up Sitton, Lewis, and Robinson, while making a move for a defensive end like Brandon Graham or Vinny Curry.

The Niners could be very set at most of their ‘need’ positions that they could afford to trade down in the upcoming Draft.

There is much to speculate, but for now, the signing of Richard Sherman could be as high impact of a signing as San Francisco could hope for, because he knows the system and could make this defense elite.

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