49ers

Kinder, gentler 49ers: Fans allowed closer view of practice

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Matt Maiocco

Kinder, gentler 49ers: Fans allowed closer view of practice

SANTA CLARA – Several hundred fans were in attendance for the 49ers’ first padded practice of training camp.

But once the 49ers broke into the 11-on-11 portion of practice Sunday, all the action took place on the field furthest away from where the bleachers were set up.

It’s a situation that has played out plenty of times in the past. The 49ers rotate practice fields, and some days those in the small grouping of bleachers have a great view of the action. On other days it’s nearly impossible to see what’s happening on a faraway field.

But something happened Sunday that was a stark departure from the past.

General manager John Lynch personally invited the fans to walk onto the unused practice field for a closer view. Lynch confirmed that coach Kyle Shahanan felt bad the fans were so far away. Lynch went over to the fans to deliver the message that they were allowed on the other side of the ropes, where they could stand along the sideline.

A limited number of fans are able to watch practice during training camp because there is not much spare space on the sidelines and end zones at the 49ers’ practice facility. The team’s only practice that is open to the general public is scheduled for next Saturday at Levi’s Stadium.

Why NFL Media's Peter Schrager believes Richard Sherman is underrated

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AP

Why NFL Media's Peter Schrager believes Richard Sherman is underrated

Richard Sherman's resume is as long as any other cornerback, but NFL analyst Peter Schrager believes the 49ers veteran is underrated. 

"I think Richard Sherman last year had a really good season," Schrager said on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" on Monday. "The Achilles didn't seem to bother him all that much. And then when it mattered most, [he] was shutting down the No. 1 wide receivers in the league, and that was with a completely depleted defense and an offense that had an undrafted rookie named Nick Mullens keeping them afloat. I think Richard Sherman [is] still underrated." 

Sherman started 14 games in his first season with San Francisco, defending a career-low four passes and intercepting zero passes for the first time in his career. Those low counting stats would be concerning for a defensive back's first season in their 30s, even excluding the season-ending Achilles injury he sustained in 2017, but Sherman's production wasn't the same as his best years with the Seattle Seahawks in large part because NFL offenses didn't seem to underrate him. 

According to Pro Football Focus, Sherman was targeted just once every 12.6 coverage snaps. No cornerback was avoided more than him, and Sherman also ranked first among corners in allowing a reception every 20.7 coverage snaps. In other words, opposing quarterbacks seemed to rate Sherman as one of the NFL's best cornerbacks. 

[RELATED: 49ers have important conversations beginning during OTAs]

How long that continues is an open question. Sherman is entering his ninth year in the NFL and turned 31 in March. Twenty-eight defensive backs were 31 or older last NFL season, and only 12 of them were 32 or older. Sherman will be 33 if he finishes out the three-year deal he signed with the 49ers last year, and it seems likely he will be targeted more the older he gets. 

But until then, it's clear Sherman's opposition under center view him as one of the best cornerbacks in the league even if Schrager's punditry peers do not. 

Ex-49ers LB Reuben Foster reportedly suffers torn ACL, possible artery damage

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USATSI

Ex-49ers LB Reuben Foster reportedly suffers torn ACL, possible artery damage

Organized team activities began Monday for NFL teams, and Washington suffered a loss shortly after the opening of camp.

Former 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster went down during the second play of OTAs with what appeared to be a serious left leg injury. He was on the ground for several minutes before being carted off while in tears.

After an receiving an MRI, Foster's injury appears to be very serious.

That's a brutal development for Foster and Washington.

[RELATED: 49ers have important competitions beginning during OTAs]

Foster was drafted by the 49ers with the No. 31 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, which was the beginning of a tumultuous time in the Bay Area.

The Alabama product was arrested three times and suffered multiple on-field injuries during his time with the 49ers. San Francisco cut ties with Foster last November after he was accused of committing domestic battery at a team hotel in Florida.

Washington claimed the linebacker off waivers a few days later. Foster recorded  84 solo tackles in his 16-game career with the 49ers.

The 49ers have since revamped their linebacking corps after Foster's departure. They signed Kwon Alexander to a four-year contract in the offseason and spent a fifth-round draft pick on Arkansas' Dre Greenlaw.

Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch hope Alexander, once he gets fully healthy, and Greenlaw can fill the role left by Foster's departure in the middle of the defense.