By Len Ramirez

SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) — The San Francisco 49ers defense has been a big part of the team’s success this season, but fans have had a love-hate-love relationship with key player Richard Sherman.

Sherman is looked up to as one of the veteran leaders on 49ers, even though he came to the team with a history.

“I go out there everyday and try to execute my job regardless. Chips going to fall,” Sherman said at a Thursday news conference at 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara. “People going to love you, people going to hate you.  Neither one of those opinions  matter.”

Sherman’s relationship with 49ers fans is complicated.

“Well, he was an enemy before,” said Efren Villanueva, a 49ers fan who came to the team store at Levi’s Stadium to stock up on 49ers gear.

As a Seattle Seahawk, Sherman helped knock the Niners out of the 2014 NFC Championship game. And his harsh words after the game made him a person that Niners fans loved to hate.

Some still hold a grudge, but his key interception last week against the Vikings helped seal the win. And his play all season has won the hearts of many.

“So now all is forgiven. Yes, now he’s one of us, he’s a team player,” said Villanueva. “He supports the team. And he’s a team leader.”

From former villain to fan favorite, Sherman says he doesn’t give it much thought.

“Honestly, it’s all the same for me,” said Sherman. “There are always people in your corner who love you, and those are the only opinions that matter to me.”

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