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49ers 90-in-90: The return of Richard Sherman

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today is cornerback Richard Sherman.

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

What a difference a year makes. A year ago, the San Francisco 49ers signed Richard Sherman with the expectation he’d be the teams’ top cornerback. Sherman’s numbers were fine last year, but he wasn’t himself. You could tell that he didn’t have the same “juice” that you’re used to seeing when you watch the future Hall of Fame cornerback.

A year removed from an Achilles injury—where Sherman admitted he was playing around 80%—Sherman is already looking like his old self during training camp. By all accounts, “he’s back.” With the team not making any significant changes in the secondary, the Niners will need the best possible version of Sherman to succeed. The pass rush will help, but if Sherman plays like the true No. 1 CB he’s displayed throughout his career, that’ll free up other defenders so they can help elsewhere.

Has your perception of Sherman changed after a year with the Niners? Plenty of fans around the league think of Sherman as this guy that never stops talking and makes everything about him. Ignoring all the great charity work, and positivity he brings to the community.

Basic info

Age: 31

Experience: 8 accrued seasons

Height: 6’3

Weight: 195 pounds

Cap Status

Sherman signed a three year, $27.15 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers on March 12, 2018. His cap number for 2019 is $9.8 million.

What to expect in 2019?

This is where we read way too much into training camp. When receivers have caught passes on Sherman, they have been contested. Most of the information that has been reported out of camp is that Sherman is making plays left and right. The best-case scenario this season is Sherman proves that he’s fully recovered from his Achilles injury, but not just statistically.

If the 49ers are going to play more man-to-man coverage this season, we could see Sherman following the opposing offenses top receiver on critical passing downs. I think seeing a confident Sherman— a player who expects to shut down a Mike Evans in Week 1—is what we can expect to see. We didn’t see the same confident, trash-talking Sherm last year. He feeds into the talking. You can’t tell me the defense around him won’t do the same. In a way, that’s another form of leadership.

With Sherman playing at the level we are accustomed to seeing, I’m also interested in what role he plays in helping the younger cornerbacks on the roster develop. The 49ers have talent in the secondary; they’re just a group that needs to be molded, both on and off the field. Sherman can help with study habits in the film room and technique in between the white lines.

When we look at Sherman’s stats to end the year, I’m expecting more than three interceptions and 12 passes defended. That will tell us that Sherman is “back.” If the defense is going to play at the level needed to contend, the return of Sherman is imperative. It’s the second day of August, but he’s trending in that direction.