Four-and-a-half years ago, Mecole Hardman, then a five-star athlete and the No. 2 ranked receiver in the country, met Richard Sherman at The Opening, a showcase for the best players in high school football.
After three years at Georgia, Hardman was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs and added to the arsenal of weapons for quarterback Patrick Mahomes. After Hardman and the Chiefs dispatched the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game, they will head to Miami to face Sherman and the 49ers, who punched their ticket by stomping the Green Bay Packers 37-20.
Hardman shared a photo of the two from The Opening after the matchup was set.
— Mecole Hardman Jr. (@MecoleHardman4) January 20, 2020
Sherman responded by noting his anticipation about the upcoming battle and how proud he was for Hardman's success.
Man time flies!!! Going to be a fun game brother! Happy for your success https://t.co/zleStw3p9A
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) January 20, 2020
Hardman has been a valuable weapon for the Chiefs this season, catching 26 passes for 538 yards and six touchdowns. With defenses trying to stop Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins, Hardman has thrived as a big-play weapon in both the passing and return game.
His speed is something the 49ers will have to try and contain. Once he gets the ball in his hands, he can go from zero to 60 in a heartbeat.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 18, 2020
With Sherman likely stapled to the left side of the field, the Chiefs likely will look to attack the 49ers other corners and not test Sherman on the biggest stage.
But there's no doubt Hardman would love to test his talent against his idol.
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of "49ers Central" all week (5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 6:00 p.m. Friday)
Chiefs' Mecole Hardman once met idol Richard Sherman as high school star originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area