The 49ers had been flirting with a reunion with Richard Sherman, but the veteran corner opted to sign with the Buccaneers on a one-year deal instead.
Even though the door on a potential San Francisco 49ers re-sign deal with veteran cornerback Richard Sherman appeared closed last offseason, then again when Sherman faced off-field challenges earlier this year, the attrition the Niners have been experienced at the position through three weeks of the regular season prompted thoughts Sherman could return again in 2021.
Well, close that book, too.
Sherman, 33 years old, joined the Niners in 2018 on a three-year deal after a prolific tenure with the Seattle Seahawks. After joining San Francisco, he helped transform a questionable secondary into one of the more formidable pass-defense units during the 49ers’ run up to Super Bowl LIV the following year.
Except Sherman also dealt with lingering calf injuries in two of his three seasons with the Niners, missing two games in 2018 and then being limited to just five in 2020.
Nevertheless, Tampa Bay’s chances for getting back to the Super Bowl and winning it again likely appealed to the five-time Pro Bowler, and the short-term nature of the deal essentially suggests he’s betting on himself to be both healthy and capable of playing at a high level once again at this stage of his career.
49ers still left scrambling for free agency options at cornerback
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, both San Francisco and Seattle flirted with the idea of a reunion with Sherman. And while Sherman’s recent health history might have been an initial deterrent, the 49ers’ growing list of injuries at cornerback could have made the pursuit a bit more desperate.
The Niners have already lost No. 1 cornerback Jason Verrett to a season-ending ACL tear, while fellow corner Emmanuel Moseley was sidelined the first two games of 2021 with a knee injury.
Additionally, Josh Norman and K’Waun Williams both exited San Francisco’s Week 3 game against the Green Bay Packers with injuries, too.
The multitude of injury setbacks prompted the 49ers to sign other veterans, including Norman, as well as Dre Kirkpatrick and, most recently, Buster Skrine, to help reinforce what’s been a dwindling crop of defensive backs.
Whether or not the Niners were aggressive in their pursuit of Sherman isn’t clear. Either way, though, that option is no longer on the table.
And San Francisco can merely hope the patchwork group put together in 2021 can hold up throughout the rest of the season.