In need of tall, aggressive cornerbacks, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan on Friday reportedly had dinner with the archetype for the position, Richard Sherman.
According to The Athletic's Marcus Thompson, Shanahan dined with Sherman and his wife in Los Gatos.
Sherman, who was released by the Seahawks on Friday, already is familiar to defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, a former Seahawks assistant coach. ESPN reported he's drawn interest from the Raiders, Titans, Lions, Texans, Buccaneers and Packers with the 49ers scheduled to have a more formal meeting with him Saturday. Because they are first on his visit list, they stand perhaps the best chance of landing him.
Fans of the 49ers know Sherman, too, perhaps all too well. The brash cornerback famously batted a pass from receiver Michael Crabtree on a last-minute touchdown attempt in the 2013 NFC championship game, triumphantly ate a turkey leg at Levi's Field after a Thanksgiving win against the 49ers and otherwise has been a twice-a-year thorn in San Francisco's side since joining the Seahawks in 2011.
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Sherman's release meant he got a head start in free agency, which begins Wednesday at 1 p.m.
"I want to go to a contender," he told Seattle's KIRO 97.3 radio Friday. "I play at a high level."
Would an ascendant – but young – team like the 49ers appeal to him?
"Would I go to a young secondary that is like we (the Seahawks) were when we were younger and help them grow and advance?" he said on the radio. "Sure, if the number looks right and the situation is comfortable for me and my family."
Sherman is from the Los Angeles area and played at Stanford. The player to whom he famously batted the pass in the playoffs, linebacker Malcolm Smith, is now in San Francisco. Another former Seahawks teammate, Cassius Marsh, also is a 49er and already has taken to Twitter to lobby Sherman to the Bay Area.
In December Marsh spoke about the similarities between the up-and-coming 49ers and the Seahawks.
"For me, where (the 49ers) are now is the infant stages of that," he said of the magical energy Seattle had in its locker room and practices. "We've got the same talent. We've got the same focus. The chemistry here is amazing. The potential is there and guys are here and willing to work for it."
By the same token, 49ers officials are cognizant of upsetting what they felt had become an excellent locker room atmosphere by the end of last season. The Seahawks appear to be jettisoning their aging stars in an effort to build a new, aggressive, young defense. Would San Francisco be similarly well-served to remain youthful?
Sherman's health also is a consideration.
His streak of 105 consecutive games, which began his rookie season, ended in November with a right Achilles tear. He also had a procedure to address bone spurs on his opposite Achilles heel, and according to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, has been in a walking boot recently. He turns 30 later this month and along with linebacker Dekoda Watson, 30, would be the only 30-somethings on the 49ers' defense if signed.
Sherman has said he expects to begin running at full speed some time next month and should be full go by training camp.
Cornerback is expected to be the 49ers' top target when free agency begins and they already have considered numerous, available players at the position, including Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, both of whom ended up being traded to the division rival Los Angeles Rams.