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Sherman on PFF: I think that you guys’ system needs more conversation

The 49ers star CB critiqued PFF’s grading system but acknowledged they’re still young and improving

Carolina Panthers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman was on PFF’s Instagram Monday discussing the most difficult receivers to guard in the NFL. Sherman also had some comments about PFF’s grading system. Sherman has had no issues retweeting their opinion of him, but acknowledged the flaws of PFF:

“I’ll go games where I don’t get targeted the whole game, and in your system, it’s kind of like a flat grade for that. There’s no way to quantify that. But in terms of what we’re doing schematically, and how I’m judged off doing my job and making tackles, and being sound, I’m usually right on it.

And then I’ll look up at the grade I’m getting from PFF, and it will be like, ‘Well, we didn’t have enough information. You didn’t get targeted, so there’s no way to give you a great grade.’ Then it’s like, what am I supposed to do? If I get targeted 10 times, and I can get a bunch of PBUs, I can get a high grade. But if I don’t get targeted at all.”

Take the Super Bowl, for example. Time after time, I’ve seen fans of the 49ers and other teams say Sherman had a bad game because all they remember is Sherman being targeted to Sammy Watkins for a first down, ignoring the other 60 or so plays that took place.

PFF acknowledged that they are finding ways to credit defensive backs in coverage when they are not targeted. Further proof that they do not grade every play, which I’m still surprised people thought was ever the case. How would it be possible to go through every game and play and have those grades up by Monday morning, sometimes Sunday night? It wouldn’t be.

It’s not going to be easy to find a way to credit DBs. I use “shut down,” “in position,” or “blown” for coverages, and even then, it can be pretty subjective. Sherman continued and gave PFF credit. He also believes that their grading system would improve if they had more input from football folks that have a better understanding of what each team is doing every play:

I think you guys are doing a great job because it’s so new. So obviously, it will evolve over time. You guys will get better. But there are so many variables involved in coverage, and especially when you’re not grading it with an understanding of the scheme that they’re running. I think that you guys’ system just needs more conversation More conversation with maybe coordinators and players, I guess. Because the coordinator would be able to coach you up and say, ‘Hey, this is what they’re responsible for. This is how important it was to the defense. There’s too many variables

I also understand that this will not prevent fans from citing PFF as the gospel if there is a season. Fred Warner was ranked in the mid-40s among linebackers. Not overall players. Linebackers.