Richard Sherman predicts 49ers in the running for Stephon Gilmore

Stephon Gilmore #9 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Stephon Gilmore #9 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Richard Sherman went on record saying he predicts either the 49ers or the Seahawks pull in All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore this offseason.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Richard Sherman knows the San Francisco 49ers don’t shy away from going with veteran defensive backs.

Sherman was one of those, joining the Niners in 2018 and spending three years with the team before departing in free agency ahead of the 2021 season. And while his void was sorely felt over the course of the year, Sherman’s own injuries likely kept general manager John Lynch and Co. from reaching a new agreement.

But that won’t mean San Francisco avoids targeting another top veteran corner this offseason.

Richard Sherman thinks Stephon Gilmore could sign with 49ers

The 49ers need to reinforce their cornerback room in 2021, particularly ahead of likely losing veterans K’Waun Williams and Josh Norman to free agency and with the need to upgrade over Ambry Thomas and Emmanuel Moseley.

Among the top names out there on the free-agent market, two-time first-team All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore is a name who won’t be thrown around lightly.

Even though he had to bounce back from a torn quad suffered in 2020 when he was with the New England Patriots, Gilmore looked more than just a little productive after his 2021 trade to the Carolina Panthers.

According to Sherman, who stated such on his podcast, Gilmore will want to head out west and “sign with either the 49ers or Seahawks.”

Gilmore would surely be a welcomed addition and would likely relish the opportunity to play for another contender at this stage of his career.

But would there be any chance of it happening?

Would 49ers want to target Stephon Gilmore in NFL free agency?

Gilmore will turn 32 years old early in the 2022 season, but the way he bounced back with Carolina a year ago suggests his injury concerns are behind him.

The Niners are currently over the salary cap by just north of $4 million, although parting ways with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will free up approximately $25 million more, making it much easier to sign someone like Gilmore.

The problem, however, is doing so would cut into San Francisco’s abilities to re-sign other top pending free agents, such as nose tackle D.J. Jones and left guard Laken Tomlinson.

But, as our friends over at Niners Nation pointed out, there’d be a means to make it happen:

"Darius Slay and Byron Jones, two cornerbacks 30 and older, average over $16.5 million a year. They are the fifth and sixth highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL. On the open market, that’s the ballpark I’d expect Gilmore to land in.You can manipulate the salary cap by front or backloading contracts, adding ghost years at the end to void deals, etc. If the 49ers want to sign Gilmore, they have the means."

Gilmore would assuredly be an upgrade to any of the options the Niners have, currently, and adding him to the defense would also turn that group into a formidable bunch, already increasing the prowess it had last year despite the deficiencies in the secondary.

The only question is whether or not San Francisco would deem it worthy enough.

Sherman appears to think so.

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