The San Francisco 49ers signed the enemy this week, inking former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman to a three-year, $39 million contract (though he only sees the vast majority of that if he is both good and healthy). 49ers fans have had… mixed responses, to say the least. Sherman, alongside quarterback Russell Wilson, was literally the face of their hated rivals of the 2010s. Imagine, after World War II, if we had taken in Nazis to reach even greater heights? Could you im—oh Operation Paperclip? Whoops, sorry.
The point is that Sherman was not only a great rival for the 49ers during the Jim Harbaugh Era, but his face is literally part of two of the worst moments of that run (eating the turkey on the 50 yard line on Thanksgiving and his interview with Erin Andrews where he spoke truths about Michael Crabtree). And now, his face will be part of the 49ers forever. If all goes according to plan, Richard Sherman will leave an indelible and positive mark, and 49ers fans will think of him fondly… forever.
49ers fans, that’s okay. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, we root for laundry. The same 49ers fanbase who calls Richard Sherman an unsportsmanlike loudmouth gleefully dons Draymond Green jerseys. The same group that calls him unhinged in interviews adulated Jim Harbaugh and his frequent dressing-down of media figures. If you’re upset about Richard Sherman, San Francisco 49ers fans, just imagine how upset he will make Tim Kawakami and Grant & Lowell Cohn. The reason we hate Richard Sherman isn’t that he is a raving lunatic (as many of my fellow Faithful have called him), but because he talks a big game and frequently backs it up. Even more frequently: he backs it up against the San Francisco 49ers. It was never about what he did, but who he did it for, and against.
Joe Staley came out on Twitter today and admits that he hated playing against Richard Sherman, but knows he will be a good teammate. It’s time we do the same. It’s time we accept that everything the Bay Area hates about Richard Sherman, they love about their own guys. Richard Sherman is brash, outspoken, hyper-intelligent, philanthropic and (before the Achilles slowed him), a great football player. That’s why we hate him. He’s all of those things and he turned his never-ending list of positive attributes against the 49ers fanbase for years. Now, he is a member of the 49ers organization, and that long list of reasons why we hate him turns into a list of reasons why we now must embrace him. To quote FDR, “he may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”
We don’t have to hate him anymore, he’s hurt us in the past, but he’s done it because he’s so good at what he does. He’s outspoken and brash, but he will turn these traits against those who go against the 49ers. He literally cost the 49ers a trip to the Super Bowl, skills which will now work for the good guys. 49ers fans, it’s fine if you hated Richard Sherman on Friday. It’s fine if you hated him when you woke up on Saturday. Don’t worry if you still hate him a little bit today. It’s okay. All the reasons you hate him? Those are the same reasons you will love him. This is fine.