A Healthy Sherman Has Returned to Prominence

Niners' veteran cornerback is again stifling opposing quarterbacks and making big plays as part of a dominating defense

It wasn’t that long ago that some believed cornerback Richard Sherman was on the downside of a great career.

The former leader of the successful Seattle Seahawks defense – a three-time, first-team All-Pro selection – suffered a serious injury in 2017, then didn’t look like the dominating player he had been in his first season with the 49ers in 2018.

Last season, Sherman was solid, but still not completely healthy. He hadn’t regained his speed and quickness from the injury to his Achilles’ tendon, and had no interceptions for the first time in his pro career.

But in seven games for the undefeated 49ers in 2019, Sherman again looks like a dominating corner.

He had his third interception of the season Sunday in a 51-13 victory over the Panthers, along with four tackles and a deflected pass. He has seven passes defensed already in 2019 – three more than in all of 2018 – the three interceptions and has been in on 23 tackles.

While the front seven of the 49ers is getting most of the attention on an outstanding defense, Sherman is helping a much-improved secondary that is bringing some swagger to a group that has been picked apart in recent seasons.

Sherman signed a three-year deal with San Francisco in 2018 worth as much as $27.15 million, and both parties are profiting.

Sherman says he was fired up for the Panthers game because he’d been told by wide receiver Dante Pettis that quarterback Kyle Allen – a Pettis friend -- had said he was going to throw at Sherman.

“I don’t know if he said it, but Pettis said he said it, so it pissed me off,” Sherman told the San Francisco Chronicle. 

The analytic website Pro Football Focus noted this week that the five-time Pro Bowler is playing his way toward more honors this season.

Jeff Deeney of PFF reported that Sherman is No. 3 in the NFL in passer rating allowed (37.9) among qualified cornerbacks.

“Vintage Richard Sherman is back,” wrote PFF. “San Francisco’s veteran corner allowed just two catches on four targets for nine yards. Sherman also came up with his third interception as a member of the 49ers and the 35th of his career. He also had three stops in the passing game, earning a 90.9 coverage grade, the highest of any cornerback in Week 8 ahead of (“Monday Night Football”).”

Sherman also was selected for PFF’s Team of the Week for the first time.

Sherman and his teammates return to action quickly, with a Thursday night matchup vs. the 3-4 Cardinals in Arizona. Kickoff is set for 5:20 p.m.

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