Like millions of people around the world, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman couldn’t believe the news coming out of Calabasas, Calif., on Sunday morning.
Kobe Bryant, the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history who won five championships during a 20-year career all spent with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash along with eight others.
A product of Compton, Calif., Sherman grew up watching Bryant and became a friend. During the media gathering Monday night at Marlins Park in Miami, Sherman referred to Bryant as a mentor and said he would try to call on his “Mamba Mentality” for Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
“I know how he would want me to take care of business in this game,” Sherman said. “I was sad this morning, down in the dumps. I know he would tell me to quit being a baby. He was a tremendous idol. There’s not enough praise I can give him.”
Sherman channeled Bryant during one of the low points of his career. In November 2017, Sherman ruptured his Achilles tendon, a season-ending injury that ended his streak of starts at 105 and basically ended his career with Seattle.
But Sherman wasn’t going to let a cart take him off the field. Remembering the time Bryant tore his Achilles in one of his last seasons with the Lakers, Sherman walked off the field on his own.
“Biggest Mamba Mentality moment of my career,” Sherman said. “We’re different animals, but the same beast. I had to be able to walk that off.”
—San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh got consideration for head-coaching positions after molding his unit into one of the best in the NFL. San Francisco allowed the eighth-fewest points (19.4 per game) and the sixth-fewest yards (281.8 per game) while tying for the fifth-highest sack total (48).
Saleh was noticed for more than his coaching ability, though. His passion became a trademark on the sideline, and the 49ers seemed to feed off it at times.
“It always comes out on Sunday,” Saleh said. “All of my emotion is more for my players and the success they’re having. They put in so much work and play for each other that I can’t help but feel excited for them.”
—Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was asked Monday night if he thinks that Tom Brady, whom he backed up for the first three years of his career in New England, will actually leave the Patriots in free agency.
“I haven’t put too much thought into it because of our run,” Garoppolo said, “but it will be interesting to see what happens.”
—Field Level Media