If you’ve ever interacted with Ahkello Witherspoon, then you know he’s hilarious. He will walk into the media room. His sarcasm starts right away. It’s great. You could see it in his quotes from Wednesday. Witherspoon swapped jerseys after the game with Tampa Bay’s star wide receiver Mike Evans, and that prompted Evans do ask an eyebrow-raising question. Here’s how the conversation went:
“He told me I did a really good job. I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this, but he was asking me if we knew the offense. I was like, ‘No, we’re just out here playing ball my man, but thanks for the compliment.’ It was crazy. I was like, ‘No, not at all, but can you sign that for me?’ It was funny. It was like see you next time… just love to compete against a guy like that.”
That says a lot about the 49ers defense. When would you guess the last time a player felt that way walking off the field? The Patrick Willis days?
Witherspoon was never as bad as his PFF grade in 2018 suggested. He wasn’t as good as his rookie year, but he wasn’t a liability. There are a lot of surroundings that go into quality cornerback play. Pass-rush and safety help are two critical factors. Those were two things that were lacking in 2018 on the 49ers defense.
Witherspoon was asked if Sunday’s performance was a confidence boost for him.
“Very little. My confidence was out the roof going into Sunday. It doesn’t really waver. A good performance shouldn’t take you out the roof, either. It’s just staying in my same place and just continuing to build. That’s the big thing, though. When you have a big game, you want to build on it and get better next week.”
That’s mature of Witherspoon, who will face a much different test Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. Instead of the taller, contested catch type wide receiver, he’ll go against smaller, shifter, and in the case of John Ross, super speedy. Witherspoon should feel quite confident after his Week 1 performance.