Richard Sherman wasn't at Levi's® Stadium in Week 12 when Jimmy Garoppolo made his San Francisco 49ers debut against the Seattle Seahawks. He was back in Seattle, out for the season with an Achilles tear, likely watching the last-second touchdown pass to Louis Murphy from his own couch.
It's also evident that Sherman kept tabs on Garoppolo's five starts down the stretch. Sherman made it clear that the 49ers newly minted franchise quarterback was a huge selling point in him signing in San Francisco.
"That played a huge part," Sherman said via conference call on Monday. "The way he played down the stretch was inspiring and incredible. It was poised."
Sherman explained that sometimes quarterbacks can be a flash in the pan – guys who get hot before "falling off the face of the Earth and you never hear from them again." But the corner believes that Garoppolo is the real deal.
"What I saw from him was consistency," Sherman said. "I saw poise. I saw leadership. I saw respect from his teammates. I saw command. He'd only been there a few weeks."
Garoppolo jumpstarted San Francisco's offense to the tune of 28.8 points per game in his five starts while averaging 308.4 passing yards. The addition of Sherman is further evidence that the 49ers 5-0 record to close 2017 was anything but meaningless wins.
"If they don't have Jimmy G. and they're not winning those games, I'm not sure I still consider (San Francisco)," the cornerback told KNBR Tuesday morning.
Sherman also acknowledged that Garoppolo is paired with one of the top offensive minds in football. San Francisco's prized free-agent signee has a long history of playing against Kyle Shanahan-led offenses.
The Seahawks played Shanahan's Washington Redskins in the Wildcard Round of the 2012 NFL playoffs. They crossed paths twice in 2016 when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. Shanahan's offense carved up the vaunted "Legion of Boom" for an average of 31 points per game, including a 34-point outburst in the NFC Divisional Round.
Sherman reiterated his respect for Shanahan while the two met for dinner last Friday night in Los Gatos, Calif.
"I think that Kyle is one of the most innovative and creative offensive minds in football," Sherman said. "He and Sean McVay. I told him such. That's from playing against him and seeing his scheme. He's always coming up with two or three concepts that we've never seen, and we really had no answer for outside of some real bastardizations of our defense.
"That was on the field, spur of the moment, just having three or four All Pro players who could adjust on the fly. Outside of that, some of these concepts were dang tough to stop. He and Jimmy will contribute a lot of wins to this football team."
And what about Sherman's role in 2018? What does the three-time All-Pro hope to bring to San Francisco's defense?
"I think I can bring a presence and leadership that will help this defense rise to prominence as well."