ORLANDO, Fla. – It's hard to imagine that many people know Richard Sherman better than Pete Carroll. The Seattle Seahawks head coach tried to recruit Sherman back in 2006 when Carroll was at USC. Instead, Sherman chose Stanford and played against Carroll's Trojans in the Pac-10 Conference.
Their paths conjoined in the Pacific Northwest when Carroll and the Seahawks selected Sherman in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. They spent the last seven years together building an NFC powerhouse in Seattle. Now, Carroll and Sherman will be on opposite sidelines again as the veteran cornerback has signed with the San Francisco 49ers.
Carroll is already looking forward to the bi-annual matchups against his former pupil.
"We've had great years together. I had so much fun coaching the guy," Carroll said Tuesday morning at the annual NFL coaches breakfast. "I love Richard. He'll always be a Seahawk in my mind, but I love playing against him, too.
"He's a very versatile football player and uniquely talented. Most of all it's his smarts and his savvy that make him the player that he is."
Carroll added that he's not surprised by how things have played out the last few weeks. The Seahawks were in consistent communication with Sherman leading up to and even after his release. Sherman gave Seattle first right of refusal upon agreeing to a deal with the 49ers, and the Seahawks opted not to match the offer.
That said, Carroll noted Sherman's incentive-laden deal is indicative of the corner's personality. Sherman has always been one to bet on himself and believe in his own abilities. So why would that change now?
"It's a classic situation for Richard to be in," Carroll said. "I think he's very comfortable in that role. I would expect no less from the way he's grown and become the player that he has.
"Sherm betting on himself is exactly what you think he'd do. I hope for the very best for him."
Sherman is currently rehabbing from the Achilles tear that ended his 2017 season after nine games. The injury snapped Sherman's streak of 105 consecutive games played to begin his career.
Carroll said the corner faces an "excruciating process" in order to get back on the field, but reiterated that if anyone can do it, it's Sherman. The coach also lauded Sherman's toughness and willingness to play through ailments in the past.
"Don't count him out," Carroll said. "He has a lot to endure right now. He's got a lot coming at him in the rehab process, particularly playing the position that he plays. But I would never count Sherm out. He's always been so possessed about his health and his wellbeing and overcoming the odds."
Sherman, who will turn 30 on March 30, has guaranteed that he will be back no later than the start of training camp and that he'll be full go in Week 1. So, whenever San Francisco first sees Seattle on its schedule, will it be weird to see Sherman patrolling the 49ers secondary in red and gold?
"We'll wait and see how he looks in the uniform," Carroll joked.