The Stanford Cardinal pass defense was terrible in 2009. Absolutely awful. But that wasn't the fault of Richard Sherman, who made a pretty strong transition from wide receiver to cornerback and thrived in that role. He made plenty of interceptions off of bad throws, racked up the tackles, and can break up passes. In 2010 with a pro guy like Vic Fangio, Sherman finally got to perform for a moderately consistent offense. Sherman could be a guy who could perform quite well in man-press coverage and play tall receivers straight up, particularly on that fade route.
Sherman also fits the mold of the bigger type of cornerback that can be physical with the tall receivers at the next level. Pete Carroll recruited Sherman when he was at USC, but wanted to prove that "kids from Compton could attend a school like Stanford". Inspiring player, and certainly the kind of guy you root for. Carroll must be happy to get a second chance to coach him.