The past three weeks has seen San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman settling into a groove in the secondary. A calf injury slowed him down early in the season, and cost him a sizable chunk of Week 3, and then all of Week 4 and Week 7. However, in the three weeks since Week 7, the only defensive snaps he did not play were ten snaps late in the 49ers blowout win over the Raiders.
This is of particular note because that stretch included the short-week turnaround from a Week 8 Sunday matchup against Arizona to a Week 9 Thursday matchup against Oakland. Prior to the Arizona game, Sherman said he expected to play that game, but was not sure how his body would respond to the short week leading up to Thursday Night Football. He ended up playing that game and then ten days later on Monday Night Football. He now gets a bye week to get closer to 100 percent before the 49ers begin the final six games of their schedule.
Sherman had was given responsibility for two receptions for ten yards in coverage. He gave up a 13-yard reception to Odell Beckham, but then tackled Saquon Barkley in the backfield on a short pass for a three yard loss. He had two notable bad plays on the day, and they came on the same drive. In the second quarter, he gave up the Beckham reception on a deep out cut where he was playing off and Beckham out and back to the sideline for the easy reception. Later in the drive, Sherman was flagged for his first defensive pass interference call of the season. It looked like both he and Beckham were getting handsy, but Sherman got the flag.
Overall, it’s been a strong few weeks, and a mostly strong season for Sherman. He is showing few effects of the torn Achilles, and seems to be getting close to back to his old self. Head coach Kyle Shanahan discussed how Sherman has looked thus far, and what he’s brought to the table for the team.
“I thought Richard had one of his best games last night. I thought it was probably his best game of the year. I don’t think it was a coincidence that it followed his best week of practice of the year. I think Richard went through a big offseason of some big injuries he was overcoming, and he battled hard to get through those. Had a number of setbacks and in training camp when he did have that, that made it hard to practice a bunch. He got himself ready for Week 1 and played. I know he had to miss a few weeks as those injuries crept back. And he played through a bunch of stuff these last few weeks.
“The thing that’s been great about Richard, just showing other guys how you can play through things when you’re not 100-percent and when you do, you’ve got to still play at a high level that helps you win, and he’s done that in a number of situations. I’m watching him get the longer week after the Thursday night game, it didn’t show up quite as much on Monday, but in Wednesday’s practice, he moved differently. He seemed a lot healthier and continued Thursday and Friday and I thought it looked that way on Monday also. So, hopefully this week will help him even more to continue to heal his body up. But, he’s played at a very good level for us, and I expect him to continue to get better.”
As the 49ers make their way into the final six games of the season, much will be about assessing for the offseason the 2019 season. Barring anything drastic, it’s safe to say Sherman will be back and probably starting next season. If he is named to the Pro Bowl this year, his 2019 salary ($7 million) becomes guaranteed for injury on the third day of the league year, and fully guaranteed on April 1st. I don’t think that is really a concern given his performance this season, but it is worth noting.