After getting in a fight with teammate Chuck Clark this week during a training camp practice, Thomas was released Sunday after one season and one Pro Bowl selection during his time in Baltimore.
Thomas’ former teammate during the “Legion of Boom” era of the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco corner Richard Sherman, responded to the news on Twitter, stating support for Thomas, who is “still like a brother” to the 2019 second-team All-Pro defensive back.
It’s really sad how things have played out for a man who is like a brother to me. Just know that when @Earl_Thomas gets back on the grass he will be out to make a point! Still one of the best in this league and I look forward to him being able to prove it again
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) August 23, 2020
The tweet is not necessarily surprising, but it does prompt one to wonder whether the 49ers are considering Thomas despite his controversial fight and release this weekend.
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Sherman and Thomas’ Relationship
Sherman and Thomas joined the Seahawks just a year apart, with Sherman coming to Seattle in 2011 and Thomas being added as the 14th overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft.
It took very little time for the pair to jell and dominate, with both Thomas and Sherman being selected to three consecutive All-Pro teams between 2012 and 2014, as well as earning the Seahawks a first-ever Super Bowl victory.
Seattle remained competitive at worst from a defensive perspective during the pair’s time up until their departures in 2017 and 2018, with Thomas leaving with three All-Pro selections and six Pro Bowls and Sherman departing with four Pro Bowls as well.
Being such a cornerstone of one of the NFL’s most consistently successful teams of the 2010s means that it isn’t surprising at all to see Sherman voicing support, even if it appears as Thomas dug his own hole by being a conflicting figure in the Ravens locker room.
Does it Mean Anything for the 49ers?
To put it simply, probably not, despite what some national reporters have said, most notably NFL reporter Ian Rapaport mentioned that San Francisco will be one of the teams to look out for as Thomas prepares to find a new destination.
A few other teams to watch for #Ravens S Earl Thomas upon him being released: The #49ers and #Texans. They should be among those inquiring, along with the #Cowboys. Thomas, of course, will have a market.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 23, 2020
However, as Sacramento Bee’s Chris Biderman points out, 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward just signed a new contract extension and is beloved by the team’s staff.
#49ers signed Jimmie Ward to a three-year, $28.5 million contract to be their starting free safety this offseason. Kyle Shanahan is one of Ward’s biggest fans, so making a play for Earl Thomas would be a massive upset.
— Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) August 23, 2020
This is where a move for Thomas starts to fall apart from the 49ers’ perspective, unless the plan wasn’t to play Thomas at his favored position of free safety, but instead sign him with the intent to play him at strong safety.
While current starting SS Jaquiski Tartt did a fine job last season, Thomas is a certain upgrade at either spot. Ward may not be removable, but Tartt might not have such a tight hold on the starting job, especially when a player of Thomas’ caliber is available.
However, the obvious hangup is Thomas’ personality and the manner in which he is leaving Baltimore. The 49ers have a good thing going in terms of the atmosphere of the locker room, and throwing someone like Thomas could jeopardize that.
It’s highly unlikely that San Francisco takes a chance on Thomas, but it will be a spot to watch.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.