San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan (left), newly-signed cornerback Richard Sherman (center), and General Manager John Lynch (right) pose for a picture before the press conference started. Image via 49ers.com

The San Francisco 49ers held an introductory press conference for most likely their biggest free agent signing of this offseason — cornerback Richard Sherman, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks (duh). Here’s the transcript in case you can’t listen!

*Questions and answers have been slightly edited for clarity.*


“I’m very excited to be here. It was a tough decision, it’s obviously tough to leave what you know and what we had (in Seattle), but things happen and you got to move on. I’m thankful for everything that I had in Seattle and what those fans brought and what my teammates brought, but I’m moving on to a new chapter and looking forward to helping this team win ballgames. Obviously, the things they did at the end of the season — the last five games were unbelievable and we hope to repeat that success in the upcoming year. Jimmy (Garoppolo) is a tremendous asset for this team and he played outstanding football, but there are a lot of young guys who I expect to have a leap from last year to this year. I’m looking forward to the challenge of growing with another group of men and bringing them get back to the top.” – Richard Sherman

Q. “Richard did John and Kyle have to convince you that this was the right place for you?”

“Uh, no. No, they didn’t. I wouldn’t have taken the visit first if I didn’t feel comfortable with what they offered as a team and their chances at competing and winning in this football league. Obviously, I’ve been apart of a lot of winning teams and I know what it takes, I know the formula, and I think they have that here.” – Richard Sherman.

Sherman (left) stressed how Lynch (right) and Shanahan (not pictured) were the main reason he came back to the Bay Area. Image via 49ers.com

Q. “From afar, you’ve seen the dysfunction that’s been in this organization for several years, so what about this current incarnation of the 49ers makes you think believe is a place that’s ready to win?”

“It’s John and it’s Kyle. They brought stability to this organization, they brought fun, they brought belief, they brought faith. The players believe they can win. The staff — everybody that I’ve spoken to speaks very highly about everyone in the staff. Kyle is obviously innovative offensively, and I’ve had a lot of respect for the way he calls the game for a long time. We’ve  played him since my rookie year, when he was with Washington. He always gives us issues with plays that we’ve never seen — routes that we’ve never seen, concepts. And then, the rest of the league piggybacks off of what he does and they’re like, ‘Oh my god, look at these great offensive coordinators!’ Literally they were just doing what this guy (Kyle Shanahan) was doing against us for the last five games. So, I mean, congratulations — you can copycat. But, I really appreciate his offensive approach. And defensively with Robert Saleh, it’s familiarity there. I’ve done well in this scheme, I’ve played well in this scheme, I know it like the back and front of my hand. In terms of the distance from my family, I’m a West Coast guy, I’m a Bay Area guy, well I’m a L.A. guy, but I spent five years in the area going to Stanford. So, I’ve won a lot of games wearing red.” – Richard Sherman

Q. “Richard, for years we’ve tried to get you on a conference call before Niner games and we were largely unsuccessful. Do you regret not talking to us?”

“You guys got me on a ton of them, like before the NFC Championship game, you guys stopped asking. And then I did a press conference every Wednesday. Were you apart of that conference call? Did you see how it went?…The radio station put us on hold! They wouldn’t mute us! You know — maybe there’s something to that! You guys are great though, I enjoy talking to you. I just don’t enjoy hearing the radio station’s ad over and over and over again (laughs).” – Richard Sherman

Q. “Sherm, your health and your projection of a timetable of getting back onto the field — what do you perceive it as?”

“Oh yeah, I’ll be back on the field May/June. I was back on the treadmill before I had to get the little scope, and I look forward to renewing that timeline in a couple of weeks. Obviously, I got a wedding to go to and some things to do — it’s going to be quite the March for me. 30th birthday, wedding, new team, new environment, we’ll write that down in the record books later, how this month went. But, I’m excited about it so that timeline will be fine. I think people like to, like with an Achilles or any injury, people like to compare to another people. ‘This guy came back like this.’ ‘This guy came back like that.’ There are some people that are cut from a different cloth and built for different things, and I think I’m one of those people. I look forward to showing people that you can come back better from things. I know A.P. (Adrian Peterson) did it, but that was a knee (injury). I look to come back better than ever and got a lot of things to show a few people.” – Richard Sherman

Q. “I know you said something about the bone spurs earlier, could you explain that a little further?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. On my left heel is a bone spur that I had been dealing with for about three years, and I had just been postponing getting it done. One year my son being born — we had lost the Super Bowl, my son was being born and I didn’t want to get it done then. Then we went on vacation and they were like, ‘You’re gonna be out for a month and a half – two months.’ When do you really want to be walking around on crutches on vacation? The next year, same deal — you just push it back and push it back. This year, we had booked it before the season even started. We were like, ‘We pushed it back far enough.’ I booked it in July, and after the Achilles ruptured, I just had to wait a couple more weeks to get it done then, when my Achilles got strong enough.” – Richard Sherman

Q. “So how long is your recovery?”

“Oh, it’s four-six weeks. Just bone edema and getting the swelling out, and just getting back to it. There’s nothing structurally with my Achilles or anything.” – Richard Sherman

Q. “Richard, why was it important for you to negotiate his own contract? How did that experience go?”

“It was really important to me. I think a lot of times in our league, there are players that have the ability to do it, and have the ability to structure their own deals, and really just take advantage of being in control of their own destiny. Sometimes these agents — you know, there are great agents in our game that take care of our players, and make sure our players are ready for life after football.Their finances, whatever the case may be. And then, there are some agents who negotiate a deal in 2006 and don’t talk to their clients again until 2010, or whatever the case may be. And that’s the thing we’re trying to avoid, and I’m trying to avoid. I didn’t feel like I needed an agent. I felt like I knew contracts well enough. Coming off an Achilles (injury), there’s going to be negotiations and there’s going to be give and takes on both sides. I felt comfortable with that.” – Richard Sherman

Q. “What’s the biggest misconception you’ve heard about your deal?”

“Well, the biggest misconception is that it’s a bad deal. If you’re comparing it to my last deal in Seattle, I had no money guaranteed. So, if I’m going off my last year in Seattle and you compare it —  I have no money guaranteed, coming off a ruptured Achilles, what security do I have there? In this deal, I get $5M guaranteed, which is half of my other contract. I have the ability to make more than I ever could (in Seattle) whether I played at an All-Pro level or not! And that’s really all that I wanted. I play at the level that I’m capable of. I feel security in the upcoming years, and I feet comfortable with that. I’m great with that, The thing I’m most frustrated about is all of the people that have been bashing this deal refuse to bash the agents that do awful deals every year. There are agents out there doing $3M fully-guaranteed deals looking like $50M deals. When a guy gets cut after two weeks, or after a year, and the guy only makes $5M of his $50M contract. Nobody sits there bashing the agent. You don’t see Florio (Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk) writing any articles about it. I mean, the kid from Philly, Brendham (?) it’s a one-year, $6M deal, but to everybody else it’s a $40M deal. There’s nobody to bash, because most people don’t even pay attention to agents or their deals. So, I think that this was just one of those things where the agents feel uncomfortable with a player taking the initiative to do his own deal. It obviously lights a fire under them, and it holds them accountable for their actions because more players do this. So, I feel comfortable with it.” – Richard Sherman

Q. “Have you heard from players around the league? Do you think it’s going to become a trend?”

“I do. I’ve heard from a lot of players, and a lot of players were already on board with doing this and thinking of doing this. I just gave them the confidence to move forward with it Obviously, I’m coming off an injury, so the logistics of things change, but I think a lot more players feel educated enough to move forward with their deals on their own. These agents sometimes will say, ‘Oh, I know this GM’ and they really don’t have to do a ton of work. ‘Hey how much are you willing to give this guy? $5M? Okay, I’ll call him back and convince him that that’s good enough. Instead of guys being able to control their own destiny, being able to control their own finances. And I think it goes back to just educating our players in general how to control their own finances and how to really be in control of your own life. I think more of our players are.

Q. “You served as the Seahawks’ player representative, right? Is that something that you’d want to do here? And are you concerned about the status of former-49ers safety Eric Reid in the NFL right now?”

“We are concerned because he’s played at a high level for just about every year he’s played in this league. He’s made enough plays to be signed to a team and to make his money — he deserves his money. Safeties get a certain amount and I’d say he’s top-five, top-ten safety in this league. So he deserves to be paid accordingly. So, there is concern there, because you would think a player of his caliber and his quality would be signed by now. Great teams are still looking, people are still looking for players, and I’m praying that he gets picked up, but if he doesn’t then I think there will be a conversation with the league office and the union on potential legal action.” – Richard Sherman

Q. “So would you want to resume being the player’s association rep here?”

“Yeah, I’m on the Executive Committee of the Player’s Union already, but I’d love to continue being a rep. I think it’s an honor to serve the men. And to help the next generation of players in any way I can.” – Richard Sherman

Q. “Richard, on a related note, when you were considering your options in your short time as a free agent, how important was it to come to a team like the 49ers, that have been at the forefront of player activism?”

“Honestly, that didn’t really come into play that much. Obviously, I feel free to speak as I want — in terms of how I speak on different social issues, etc, and obviously the 49ers have been open to allowing their players the freedom express themselves on this platform. So, that is something that is great about this organization. But, the biggest thing was Kyle (Shanahan) and John (Lynch) reaching out initially. They reached out within five, ten minutes of my release hitting the wire. And just having that kind of respect from a team means a lot to me. There were other teams that reached out consequently after, but I think that meant a lot to me — just the want of a team. A team showing you that they want you, that they value you. Obviously Seattle showed that they didn’t value me as much, letting me go see the market. So, I think there’s something to be said on the football field.” – Richard Sherman

Q. “Are you in favor of the changes to the catch rule?”

“I’m in favor of it because it gives the refs more clarity. I think anytime it give the referees more of a straight line, edge to call the game, I think it’s better for the game. Obviously, there’s been a lot of scrutiny on the catch rule, and last year, my team was on the wrong end of it. A guy caught the ball, ran three/four steps, put his hand on the ground, fell, fumbled the ball, and nobody touched him, and they (referees) said it was an incomplete pass. It was just the most ridiculous thing I think I’ve ever seen. I think that they need to do more rules like that — they need to take the gray area out of more rules, because the rule-book is getting too crazy, it’s getting too extensive. Every game, the refs are getting scrutinized left and right. When it’s like — it’s a bang-bang play, this game is happening at a million miles per hour, and there’s really nothing you can do about it. The rule-book is so complex, how many times can you think of 1,500 rules in a second of a play and see which ones apply to that particular play. So, I think anytime they can simplify the rule-book and simplify the ref’s understanding and the public’s understanding, it makes it better for the game.” – Richard Sherman

Q. “With the nature of the rivalry with the 49ers and Seahawks, and with you at the center of it, was it a little surreal for you to put on the suit today and see yourself in that (49ers) hat?”

“I’m a Pro’s Pro. Like I said, at the end of the day, the team who wanted me is the team whose logo I’m wearing today. It’s a business — the Seahawks made their business decision, made the decision they needed to make. And, the San Francisco 49ers made the decision that they needed to make. And I look forward to helping them win ballgames. At the end of the day, the rivalry is what is is. It’ll be renewed, I’m sure, and I’ll be at the center of it again, I guess. At the end of the day, I’m just coming here to help this team win ballgames. I like what they stand for. I like the direction the team is headed in. I look forward to making new memories.” – Richard Sherman

49ers newest cornerback hopes to reignite the rivalry between his former team, the Seattle Seahawks. and his new team, the San Francisco 49ers, A rivalry he was a large part of starting, I may add. Image via 49ers.com

Q. “Negotiations with Paraag lasted five and a half hours. Could you talk to us a little about the whole process?”

“Don’t take John (Lynch) out of there! John was in there too! Yeah, it was a long negotiation, and I think it was probably, I would think, one of the more respectful negotiations that I’ve done. Just pure business, I think people were like, ‘He is an emotional player, what is going to do?’ The speculation was ridiculous. At the end of the day, you got to separate you as a football player from you as a businessman. I don’t sit in business meetings and just go crazy, ‘Oh my god! What kind of deal is that?’ Nobody does that. At the end of the day, I gave them the pro’s and the con’s I thought of me, as a player. They gave me their pro’s and the con’s, they offered me a deal. We manipulated some of the numbers of that deal over five hours. I think I got to a place where I felt comfortable with the numbers and the security with me playing at the level that I’m accustomed to, and I think they felt comfortable with their security of if I never get to get back to playing, or if I never step back on the field, that they need the ability to be able to cut ties and not put themselves at a disadvantage financially. And I understand that because I understand how this game goes. I look forward to showing them who I’ve been.” – Richard Sherman

Q. “You’re going to be joining a very young secondary, especially at cornerback. Do you enjoy that aspect of the game? Sort of sharing your knowledge with younger guys? Second question: Do you know Ahkello Witherspoon at all? Are you familiar with his game?”

“I’m familiar with his game more than I am with him personally. I look forward to the challenge. I’ve always been the guy to take the young guys under my wing and give them any advice that they wanted or they were seeking. Whether it’s staying after practice and spending just countless hours on technique, or up in the film room –, this is what I see, this is how I see it, situational football, these are fundamental things that I look for in a formation. I look forward to helping this group grow. I think that one of my best attributes is leadership and helping guys get the best out of themselves. At the end of the day, that’s all I want to do — I want to help them become better men and better players. Whatever that may be, if that means on the field — just communicating better. If that’s off the field — just getting your affairs in order in a better way that is more conducive to success. I think that’s my job and I take that responsibility seriously.” – Richard Sherman

Q. “Looking back on your time with Seattle and how it ended, is there anything you regret about how you communicated either privately or publicly?”

“I think in terms of the organization and how we communicated internally. Outside, there was definitely a way for me to handle it better. There were a lot of conversations that went on before that all culminated, but there’s definitely some growing in that moment, some learning, and I can appreciate that. Kyle (Shanahan) and I spoke about that the first time we sat down and had dinner, we had the same conversation and came to the same conclusion. I think at the end of the day, that’s part of growing up as a player and a person.”

Richard Sherman seems to have something up his sleeve when the 49ers play the Seahawks. Image via 49ers.com