Nevius: 49ers’ Nick Bosa, Richard Sherman bridge their differences

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Richard Sherman and Nick Bosa seem like polar opposites. Consider their respective press conferences in the 49ers’ media auditorium after Saturday’s playoff win over Minnesota.

Sherman took the podium in a snappy gray suit coat with a purple pocket square flaring out of the breast pocket. His trademark dreadlocks cascaded over his shoulders.

He cautioned reporters to “take a seat, I’m going to be here a while,” and launched into an extended riff on his accomplishments and how he’d been disrespected by doubters. While accurate, the laundry list of personal achievements is the kind of braggadocio that is off-putting to fans and cranky veteran sports columnists.

Several minutes later, Bosa took the stage in a gray hoodie and sweatpants. Not to dwell on his trademark deadpan, but I’ve seen more expression on the faces of clocks. He answered questions in his usual surfer-bro monotone.

What could these two have in common? And yet, as Bosa said Saturday, he’s not only come to think of Sherman as a valuable teammate, he’s learned to appreciate and even admire him.

“It’s just funny how you form an opinion as a fan,” he has said. “And then you actually meet people and it’s completely different.”

How did this happen? Because a few months ago, it looked like a potential problem.

Bosa, you recall, had a rough start to his professional career. As the second choice in the draft, his background was scrutinized as if he was a presidential candidate. And unfortunately, there were some problems.

Although he deleted them, reporters found some tweets where Bosa had referred to controversial Colin Kaepernick as “a clown.” He also Tweeted such praise for Donald Trump that the president responded with a Twitter shout-out to Bosa. Here on the Left Coast, that’s not a good look.

Reporters, as is our wont, rushed to Sherman in hopes of stirring up a brouhaha. Sherman has been a critic of Trump and is a vocal supporter of Kaepernick. They laid out the comments and waited for the fireworks.

They never happened. Didn’t he want to set Bosa straight?

“No,” Sherman said. “If he can play, he can play. Is he helping our team? Is he being a good teammate? Those are things that matter. Now, if he’s a bad teammate, that’s something we’ll address.”

We don’t have a record of Bosa’s reaction, but he had to be shocked. Especially since he admitted during the season that in his younger days he was “kinda a Seahawks hater.” He said he didn’t appreciate “the arrogance” of Seattle’s notorious Legion of Boom defense.

And now the leader of that Legion, and probably the person most associated with that arrogant mindset, was helping to defuse his controversy? Whoa.

And it didn’t end there. When it turned out that Bosa could play, and was a legitimate Rookie of the Year contender — winning the Pro Football Writers of America’s overall and defensive versions of that award on Tuesday — Sherman went out of his way to praise him.

Asked how Bosa was doing after one eye-opening game, Sherman took off on a lengthy discourse that one reporter calculated ran to 375 words.

“Bosa is an immense talent,” Sherman said. “I’ve never seen a rookie with this kind of poise, this kind of dominance.”

To be clear, this isn’t just about a bromance with Bosa and Sherman. The 31-year-old veteran is known for name-checking teammates in press sessions. Sherman did it when he was in Seattle, often detouring in media sessions to praise players.

And he’s doing it here, calling out Kwon Alexander, Dee Ford and Jaquiski Tartt after Saturday’s game. (He joked that Tartt isn’t getting enough attention because people don’t know how to pronounce his first name.)

“I’ve always been that kind of teammate that talked his guys up,” Sherman said earlier in the year. “I think that’s important. Everybody doesn’t get the platform to speak. So if you’ve got the platform, you should use it to give the guys the attention they deserve.”

Now, the self-aggrandizement and personal feuds will never go away. Sherman obviously feels they help with his motivation. But there are moments that show he has it in perspective.

Earlier in the year, Sherman got into a ridiculous tiff with Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield, claiming Mayfield refused to shake his hand after the pregame coin toss. When video showed that Mayfield had shaken his hand, but before the coin flip, Sherman apologized and said he would personally reach out to Mayfield to make amends.

He also orchestrated a big fuss over a supposed slight before the game with the Panthers. He said teammate Dante Pettis told him that quarterback Kyle Allen was going to “go at” Sherman. After considerable huffing and puffing about disrespect, beat reporter Eric Branch had a question.

Isn’t it possible, Branch asked, knowing how it would fire you up, Pettis may have made that up? Sherman, breaking into a huge smile, essentially answered, “Maybe.”

That’s what you get. A supremely talented player (who doesn’t get enough credit for solo tackles on running plays) who can come across as a polarizing loudmouth. And go ahead and think that of him if you wish.

But I’d listen to someone like Nick Bosa, who had every reason not to appreciate Sherman and is now a fan.

“Just as genuine a guy as you’ll ever meet,” Bosa said Saturday. “Me being here, seeing his passion and work ethic, I just respect him.”

Me too.

Contact C.W. Nevius at Twitter: @cwnevius

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