Richard Sherman's Speedy Recovery and the 49ers Contingency Plans at Cornerback
“Getting there…” is how Richard Sherman captioned an Instagram video of himself running on his surgically repaired Achilles. Since that video was posted, in mid-May, Sherman has taken part in individual drills during the team’s minicamp and all indications are that he will be ready when the team starts training camp on July 25. Sherman appears to be ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation and having him ready for training camp would be a welcome sight for the 49ers, but was such a speedy recovery something the team was counting on?
The 49ers allocated significant resources to the cornerback position this offseason by selecting Tarvarius Moore (3rd round), and DJ Reed (5th round) in the draft and signing undrafted free agents Emmanuel Moseley and Tarvarus McFadden (McFadden, the former Florida State standout, was given $90,000 guaranteed). Additionally, the team signed C.J. Goodwin off waivers from Arizona (Goodwin is a 6-foot 4-inch, 220 pound converted wide receiver).The 49ers are also rumored to be nearing a deal with undrafted free agent Devron Davis, a 6-foot, 210 pound cornerback out of the University of Texas, San Antonio who is the cousin of former 49er Vernon Davis.
As part of the contract he signed, Sherman is required to pass a physical prior to November 11 to collect a $2 million bonus. November 11 is the last day that a team can activate someone from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and is almost exactly a year from the day Sherman suffered the injury (he was injured November 9, 2017). Structuring Sherman’s contract in the manner they did would indicate that the team had planned on Sherman being the starting cornerback opposite Ahkello Witherspoon at some point this season, but Sherman’s accelerated recovery has not halted plans to acquire depth at the position.
Sherman is seen as the archetypal cornerback in Robert Saleh’s defense and his signing has not stopped the 49ers from leaving no stone unturned in the search for players at the position. In recent weeks, the team has also been present for the workouts of supplemental draft prospects corner backs Adonis Alexander (Virginia Tech), Sam Beal (Western Michigan) and Brandon Bryant (Mississippi State). If the team decides to spend a 2019 draft pick on one of the cornerbacks available in the supplemental draft it could be an indication of how they feel about the players currently on the roster or it could just be a sign that the team is going with a “Thunderdome” approach for the position group.
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