While C.J. Beathard prepares to start for Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback Sunday, the 49ers will be shuffling players into a secondary that has been weakened by an injury to veteran cornerback Richard Sherman.
Sherman suffered a calf strain in the loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City this past weekend and had to leave the game. He’s not expected to be able to play for a few weeks as he heals.
It’s a blow to a limping secondary. Sherman has played well and been a leader on a unit that has been hit hard by injuries and inconsistency. Sherman, the former Seahawks All-Pro, did not allow a catch on either throw to a receiver he was covering against the Chiefs. On one play, he knocked the ball away from Kansas City’s speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill in the end zone after it first appeared Hill might come up with a long scoring throw.
Sherman, in fact, has been very good in his first three games with the 49ers, allowing just one catch on six targets for 18 yards, noted Keiana Martin of 49ers.com. Sherman has allowed a passer rating of just 39.6 on passes in his direction in 2018.
Now the 1-2 49ers get ready to face the 1-2 Chargers and quarterback Philip Rivers in Carson this Sunday without Sherman, who might have been able to help contain Rivers and a potent offense. The Chargers average 415.3 yards per game, fifth in the NFL. Rivers is seventh in the NFL in passing, averaging 302 yards per game, and has eight TD passes vs. just one interception and a quarterback rating of 115.7. Rivers has a strong group of wideouts, too, led by Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
Sherman joins a long list of injured secondary players including starting strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (out with a hip injury) and free safety Adrian Colbert (hip). Cornerback Jimmie Ward also had to leave the Chiefs game for a while, too, with cramps.
Ahkello Witherspoon, who came into the season as a player on the rise, came off the bench to take Sherman’s place against K.C., having been benched against the Lions the week before. He could pair with Ward this Sunday vs. the Chargers.
Sunday’s game against the Chargers is set for a 1:25 p.m. kickoff at the Home Depot Center.