Richard Sherman won't play in Sunday’s matchup in New Orleans, but he still will have an impact on the game.
The 49ers opened the practice window for the All-Pro cornerback in preparation for their contest with the Saints on Sunday. On Friday, however, coach Kyle Shanahan announced that the team will play it safe with Sherman, holding him out until Week 12 when the club will face the Los Angeles Rams.
In just a few practices, the veteran has already been coaching up Brandon Aiyuk, who is slated to play a big role in the offense after missing Week 9 while on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The rookie is soaking in all the tips Sherman has offered him, knowing it will improve his game.
“I love having Sherm out there, just his being out there this week,” Aiyuk said. “Just this week alone, just being able to go up against him, he just has some things, vet things, the tools that he has in his bag that you don’t get to see all the time.”
Aiyuk has been able to “pick Sherman’s brain” during the practice reps they have had together. The two will then watch film of their practice while in the locker room, knowing it will only help the rookie on Sunday.
“When you’re going up against older corners, who kind have the little tricks that they do, I get to see it from him at practice,” Aiyuk said. “I’m able to become aware of those things because you don’t know what you don’t know.”
Sherman likely will give Aiyuk a little flack for calling him “older,” but will continue to be a resource for the rookie who has already been a playmaker on the field.
The two have spent limited time together as the rookie missed a large portion of training camp and Week 1 with a hamstring injury. Because of current COVID-19 protocols, Sherman hasn’t been around the facility while working his way back from the calf injury he sustained in Week 1.
Jason Verrett, who has been a force on the field in Sherman’s absence, noticed the interaction between veteran cornerback and the rookie receiver.
“After that one-on-one that Sherm had against Brandon, he was just giving him tips with working on his releases and trying to give different looks,” Verrett said. “That way he’s not giving the same look each and every time he does a certain route.”
Verrett has been impressed with how Aiyuk has handled his rookie season thus far. He appreciates the physical style of play Aiyuk brings to the field as well as his ambition to a cornerstone of Shanahan’s offense.
“What stands out about him is that he’s not scared.” Verrett said. “He’s not scared about the challenges, he’s not scared about to learn. He’s always striving to be that guy so I think that’s the trait that I like about Aiyuk. He’s definitely trying to strive to be that number one guy.”