There’s value in player interviews. It eliminates the conjecture from the media side of things. By now you know that San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman is not one to bite his tongue. Knowing Sherman is candid, I tend to take what he says with a more than a grain of salt. So if he says he’s hurt, he’s hurt. If Sherman is impressed by a player, that’s probably not just a teammate gassing someone up. More than likely that player has been playing well.
Here’s Sherman talking about the difference in his movements from this year compared to last year.
“It’s the first time in a few years that I’ve been able to move and groove like I wanted to,” Sherman said. “I had the MCL a few years ago, had the Achilles. This offseason, I don’t have anything, thank goodness. And I’m able to just move and explode and just get to the spots I want to. I can stop when I want to stop; I can go when I want to go. It changes the whole dynamic for me.”
Not coming off surgery and being able to participate in OTAs is a big deal. Sherman said the difference in being able to compete is “night and day.” Sherman also mentioned how he is much more comfortable in press coverage. That could lead to Robert Saleh playing a more aggressive, especially with the added pass rush.
Sherman was also asked about any mental blocks that come from the injury:
“I think it goes away when you don’t physically feel pain anymore,” Sherman said. “Then you know you can move like you want to. When you feel pain in certain movements, you just don’t want to hurt it any worse than it already is, so you kind of baby it a little bit. When you don’t have it, you don’t worry about it. You’re just moving. You’re just getting to your spots, you’re moving full speed. You can never really move full speed when you have that kind of inhibition, because you’re always conscious of which foot you’re putting in the ground on certain cuts and the game is too fast.
Even a guy who thinks at my pace, it’s still too fast to just be like, ‘Hey, I’m going to put the right foot in the ground to break on this out route when the guy is already moving.’ I’ve got to be able to react.”
Sherman walks us through his thought process and what it’s like dealing with an injury that impacts everything you do as a cornerback. It sounds like someone will be playing a lot more confidence this year. That was my takeaway.
Sherman also talked about new CB Jason Verrett. He spoke very highly about the former Pro Bowler:
“When he’s on the field, he’s one of the best corners in our game,” Sherman explained. “When he’s healthy, and he’s moving, he has great instincts, he has great movement, he has good ball skills. He’s just a pest. He’s always there. He’s always close to the ball. Even when the receiver is making a catch, it’s really a tough, contested catch.”
A pest is a compliment at defensive back. If you’re annoying, and always disrupting the receiver to some capacity, you’re doing a great job. That’s a pretty accurate description of Verrett.
Sherman is pretty confident that if healthy, the job is Verrett’s to lose:
“Obviously, the circumstances have been what they were in LA and San Diego,” Sherman continued, “but I think, at least from my perspective, he has a great reputation when he’s on the field. Obviously, he’s had some tough injuries, and nobody wants to see it, but if he gets back up to speed, he’s going to be tough to deal with.”
A big if, but it’s exciting to think about. You can watch the majority of the interview below: