By Nick Shook
Read full post on NFL.com
Oh, how a quarterback can change everything.
Not too long ago, San Francisco was considered a cellar-dwelling franchise devoid of talent with a long road ahead to relevance. The 49ers were without a franchise quarterback, and fresh off two seasons of absolute ineptitude under Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly, were without a win through nine weeks of the 2017 season.
Then came Jimmy Garoppolo, and just over a month later, a Week 13 win over Chicago. San Francisco hasn’t lost since.
The Niners are also winning in free agency so far, bringing in veteran corner Richard Sherman on a low-risk, three-year deal. The standout defender who made his name as a leader of the Legion of Boom defense in Seattle admitted Garoppolo’s presence made the 49ers a much more attractive destination.
“That had a huge part. The way he played down the stretch was inspiring, it was incredible,” Sherman said, via The Mercury News. “Sometimes quarterbacks can get hot and the next year fall off the face of the Earth and you do not hear from them again.
“What I saw from him was poise, I saw leadership, I saw the respect from his teammates, and I saw a command of the offense, and he’d only been there a few weeks.”
In that short span of time, the Niners went from being an also-ran to an exciting team with a promising future. That attracted Sherman, who’s coming off an Achilles injury — “I think our goal is to have him back for training camp,” general manager John Lynch told NFL Network’s Steve Wyche on Monday — and ready to lead a younger defense.
It’s also helping Lynch draw more talent.
“Well, I think it’s huge,” Lynch said of the impact Garoppolo has on being able to sell the 49ers to prospective free agents. “That position, first of all. But then Jimmy, the way he played. Is it a short sample size? Sure. And we all know that. But I can just tell you from the response we got from Richard and from other people around the league, it’s a game-changer for us.”
A game-changer that landed Sherman, who was representing himself in negotiations. No knock on the young quarterback, but had San Francisco been forced to finish 2017 with C.J. Beathard, it’s simply less likely Sherman is in red and gold right now. He’s only the first new addition to a team flush with cap space and a GM in Lynch who’s hungry to add more “guys that are really a great fit for the culture that we’ve helped establish here in the first year,” the GM said.
Plenty of credit for that culture shift is due to Garoppolo. Perhaps more is in store for the whole group.