It isn't officially official, but it might as well be. The Richard Sherman era with the 49ers is coming to an end.
Sherman, who is scheduled to be a free agent when the new league year begins in March, told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco in early December that a return to the 49ers is "not looking likely" due to salary-cap constraints. Sherman now has spoken with general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan, and a split between the two sides is coming.
“It’s been made pretty clear,” Sherman told the Sacramento Bee's Chris Biderman in a phone conversation. “It was a good conversation, nothing crazy. Just a good conversation about where they are and where I am, and their plans.
"We were both very positive and as good as you can be in a situation like this.”
Sherman will turn 33 years old at the end of next month. He signed a three-year contract with the 49ers ahead of the 2018 season after seven years as San Francisco's nemesis with the Seattle Seahawks. Fully recovered from an Achilles injury, Sherman looked like a star again in 2019 and helped lead the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV.
But injuries limited Sherman to just five games played this past season, where he recorded one interception.
Over his 10-year career, he has played both rival and role model to the 49ers. When he looks back at his time in Santa Clara, he has nothing but good things to say.
San Francisco 49ers
“Very positive," Sherman said to Biderman. "It was an incredible chapter in my career and I got to meet and play with some incredible human beings. I met some phenomenal coaches, and obviously the relationships that were forged will be lifetime connection and my relationship with ‘The Faithful’ has obviously evolved during that time, which has been a pretty cool arc in the story.
"And I’m grateful for it.”
The 49ers will have a big hole to fill at cornerback with Sherman on his way out. Players at the position like K'Waun Williams, Ahkello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley also are headed for free agency and could find new homes on the open market.
Sherman recently told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith he plans to play just two more seasons before retiring. Where that will be, however, is up in the air right now.