SANTA CLARA — He knows the inherent risks of his deal. He knows what he was brought here to do. And he knows how the union will react if a certain former 49er remains unsigned.

The Niners have Richard Sherman, meaning they have a new outspoken spokesperson, too.

The rival-turned-veteran leader of the 49ers addressed reporters from a podium on Tuesday as general manager John Lynch, head coach Kyle Shanahan and CEO Jed York looked on from a side wall. The team’s braintrust didn’t have much to say, probably because one of the NFL’s smartest players was saying more than enough himself.

“We’re thrilled to do this and we all know what he brings,” Lynch said during his only comment. “He brings a championship pedigree, as I said, and an absolutely wonderful competitor that we wanted to surround his presence around our guys with.”

Jimmy Garoppolo is the face of the franchise, but the quarterback doesn’t like to say much. That will leaves the most outspoken role to Sherman, who looked more than willing to embrace it on Tuesday. Here are the big issues he addressed:

On his contract …

Sherman, who turns 30 this month, famously negotiated his own deal. He was slammed by some fellow players, including recently retired, future Hall of Fame lineman Joe Thomas, who tweeted, “You really feel bad for Richard Sherman, but this is clearly a case of ego getting in the way of his pocket book. He got absolutely crushed on this contract while working as his own agent.”

Naturally, Sherman disagreed with that assessment of his incentive-heavy contract, which could be worth $27 million over the next three years. It comes with $5 million guaranteed, while his deal with the Seattle Seahawks had no guarantees.

“I think the thing I’m most frustrated about is all the people that were like so high on bashing this deal refuse to bash the agents that do awful deals every year,” he said.

Some agents structure deals to look bigger than they are, and no one says anything, he said. So why is there added scrutiny that he’s betting on himself?
Sherman said he’s heard from his peers and thinks that players negotiating their own deals could become a trend.

On Eric Reid’s unemployment …

The first player to join Colin Kaepernick in his protest of inequality in this country by kneeling through the playing of the national anthem has received little interest during his free agency.

Eric Reid knew this was a possibility toward the end of the season. The former 49ers safety had seen first-hand what happened to his friend as he searched for a role in the NFL.

Sherman plans on vying to be the 49ers’ player representative with the union, and if Reid keeps getting passed over, Sherman will be a part of a group taking action to make things right.

“We are concerned, because he played at a high level for just about every year that he’s played in this league,” Sherman said. “He’s made enough plays to be signed with a team and to make his money. … I think great teams are still looking and people are still looking for players. 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.”

Reid was a leader in the locker room and a beast in the secondary. The Niners have to hope they have found a replacement in Sherman. And if he’s willing to take the torch in forcing the league to be more just, that’s even better.

On his health …

There’s one question that really mattered: Is Sherman healthy enough to play?

Sure, he’s perfect for Robert Saleh’s system and projects to be a major presence in a mostly young locker room. But none of that really matters if he isn’t able to fully come back from a ruptured right Achilles tendon and a procedure to remove a bone spur from his left heel.

Sherman expects to be back on the field in May or June.

“I think with an Achilles or any injury, people like to compare other people: ‘This guy came back like this, this guy came back like that,’” he said. “There are some people that are cut from a different cloth and built from 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.”

Contact Examiner Sports Editor Jacob C. Palmer at jpalmer@sfexaminer.com or on Twitter, @jacobc_palmer.

Jacob C. Palmer
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