SANTA CLARA -- Ahkello Witherspoon is finding out what life is like for a cornerback whose 49ers teammate on the other side is Richard Sherman.
Sherman is 30 and coming off Achilles surgery, but the 49ers’ first two opponents still clearly hold him in high regard. On Sunday, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford decided to not even bother challenging Sherman, deciding to focus instead on testing Witherspoon.
“That’s just the nature of my job,” Witherspoon said following the 49ers’ 30-27 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. “I don’t even care who’s on the other side, I have to be ready every single play. That’s the mindset I have. That’s the focus I have.
“With Richard Sherman being over there, I have an opportunity to make even more plays. I look forward to that.”
Hobbled by an ankle injury that limited him in practices on Wednesday and Thursday, Witherspoon made no excuses after giving up a number of plays, including two touchdowns.
In the fourth quarter, Witherspoon was called for defensive holding and pass interference in a three-play span. That prompted the 49ers’ coaching staff to insert Jimmie Ward into the game at right cornerback to take Witherspoon's place.
”He was questionable all week with just how he was practicing, having some stuff bothering him going into the game,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “That’s no excuses or anything. If you’re out there, you’ve got to play well, and just saw him hobbling a little bit, so got someone else in there.”
When asked if he still had his confidence, Witherspoon answered, “Yeah, can’t shake it.”
Sherman shared his advice for Witherspoon, who started nine games as a rookie last year after the 49ers selected him in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft.
“You have 24 hours, win, lose or draw,” Sherman said. “Regardless of the outcome or how you play, you have 24 hours. You look at the tape, you correct your mistakes and you move on. That is what you do regardless. If he played and had five picks, I would tell him the same.
“It doesn’t matter how good you played or how bad you played one week, this is the NFL. The next week is a whole new beast. You are facing a whole new team, whole new scheme. If you caught five picks, they are going to test you again. If you got five balls caught on you, they are going to test you again, regardless. That is this league, and I think that he is going to bounce back.”