SANTA CLARA — Richard Sherman is very excited to head into the offseason healthy, rather than worrying about rehabbing his Achilles like he was at this time last year. The 49ers cornerback is also a believer in the team's future, thinking that the front office will be smart during free agency and in the draft.
It took Sherman a little longer than expected to play without the pain and limitations of his repaired Achilles. Ending the season healthy comes as a welcome relief.
“I’m so excited,” Sherman said. “I think that’s going to be the biggest thing for me. To just have an offseason to work hard and to push my body and to let my muscles and tendons and ligaments recover like they should and then strengthen like they should.
“It will give myself a chance to do the drills. To pull the sled like I normally would and get my body back to where it normally is.”
Sherman finally started to feel closer to his old self in the last few weeks of the season. At that same time, there was personnel consistency on the defense and that led to them playing sound football.
Younger players on the 49ers had the chance to get valuable playing time under their belts, and Sherman believes that will help the unit be successful in 2019. He was just as positive heading into his first year with the team, but then 17 players went on injured reserve -- including stars Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon.
"I saw ’18 as the year we could play,” Sherman said. “But, I obviously didn’t foresee Jimmy being out for the season, Jet being out for the season, us losing three safeties, a starting corner, two linebackers.
“I definitely think that 2019 is a chance. Another year of experience for all those guys. I think it’s going to give us a chance to be really special.”
With over $62 million dollars in cap space, San Francisco could be very aggressive in free agency but Sherman believes that that general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan won’t make any rash decisions.
“I’d like them to be smart and get us better,” Sherman said. “Obviously, I don’t make any decisions or call any shots, but I’m sure that Kyle and John are going to do their due diligence on everybody and put us in a better position than we have been this year.”
Sherman believes that the team already has important pieces in place for its success. He explained that standouts like defensive lineman DeForest Buckner and All-Pro tight end George Kittle have become important leaders in the locker room.
“I think that’s essential to winning programs and championships,” Sherman said. “To be a winning organization, those have to be foundational pieces. Those guys set the standards and the precedent for other guys to follow.”
As long as players heed Shanahan’s message of not being complacent during the offseason, Sherman believes that the 49ers could have a very good defense.
“When we get back to 100%, we will be very stingy."