49ers

Richard Sherman proving he's still got it, despite 'Uncle Sherm' nickname

unclesherm.jpg
AP

Richard Sherman proving he's still got it, despite 'Uncle Sherm' nickname

SANTA CLARA -- Richard Sherman showed Monday that he still has a lot left in the tank. The 49ers cornerback's performance in the 27-23 loss to the New York Giants was one of his best of the season. 

The acquisition of Sherman after surgery on his Achilles was one of the biggest stories of the 49ers' offseason. Would he be able to return to the level of play that made him a rarely targeted, shutdown corner? He has answered that question.

Up until Week 10, Sherman had quietly put together a solid season, but his value off the field was more recognized. He has been a role model and a coach for the young secondary and a leader in the 49ers' locker room.

Facing the Giants, the 30-year-old showed he’s more than his nickname, “Uncle Sherm.” He was targeted twice, allowing two receptions for 10 total yards. He made three solo tackles, two of which were of Giants running back Saquon Barkley.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan glowingly spoke about Sherman’s performance.

“I thought Richard had one of his best games last night,” Shanahan said in his Tuesday press conference. “I thought it was probably his best game of the year. I don't think it was a coincidence that it followed his best week of practice of the year.”

[RELATED: 49ers 'want' Sherman next season]

It has taken some time for Sherman to get back to his old self -- getting more time off after the Thursday night game against the Raiders on Nov. 1 helped.

“I think Richard went through a big offseason of some big injuries he was overcoming,” Shanahan said. “And he battled hard to get through those. Had a number of setbacks and in training camp, when he did have that, that made it hard to practice a bunch."

“He got himself ready for Week 1 and played. I know he had to miss a few weeks as those injuries crept back. And he played through a bunch of stuff these last few weeks.”

The 49ers coach also explained how leading by example through his injuries is another valuable quality that Sherman brings to the table.

“The thing that's been great about Richard, just showing other guys how you can play through things when you're not 100 percent," Shanahan added. "And when you do, you've got to still play at a high level that helps you win, and he's done that in a number of situations.”

The cornerback's physical ability obviously is a key component to his success, but Shanahan explained there’s more to it than meets the eye. 

“I think people say that because Richard is very talented and things like that,” Shanahan said. “But that's not what separates him from other people. Richard's game has a lot to do with what's upstairs. He's thinking a lot. He understands route combinations. It's hard to beat him on the same thing twice. You can get him once, but usually the second time it's a pick."

“That allows him to, I think he's in his eighth year. He's played seven years. By no means do I think he's at that stage yet where we're talking about him being old. But, as he does get there, and you start to lose a couple steps -- which happens to everybody -- the guys that have been successful because of more than just their ability are guys that usually can still play at a high quality even though their skills diminish. But I don't think he's there yet.”

Old 49ers-Odell Beckham trade idea shows NFL draft was better route

lynchbosashanahanap.jpg
AP

Old 49ers-Odell Beckham trade idea shows NFL draft was better route

NFL draft season prompts plenty of outlandish trade scenarios to fill airtime and word counts, many of which never come to fruition.

Dallas Morning News reporter Joseph Hoyt dug up one such scenario Thursday, and it's a (hypothetical) trade the 49ers are (hypothetically) glad they didn't (hypothetically) make.

The 49ers would've had to pay a pretty penny for then-New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the proposal put forth in a "Good Morning Football" segment nearly two years ago. Beckham was months away from signing a contract extension, so San Francisco would've traded a lot of draft capital for a star entering the final year of his contract. The picks the 49ers made in those slots formed the backbone of the 2019 NFC Champions.

Beckham's arrival would've changed things, though. The 49ers would've entered the season with arguably the best receiver in football as well as George Kittle, who'd emerge as arguably the best tight end. Kittle might not have set an NFL record for receiving yards by a tight end playing alongside Beckham, but he surely would've benefitted from the extra attention opposing defenses paid the receiver rather than him.

Do they still go 4-12 that year? The 49ers were 3-5 in games decided by six points or fewer in 2018, and Jimmy Garoppolo (torn ACL) missed all but one of those games. Beckham crossed the 1,000-yard threshold in just 12 games catching passes from Eli Manning in 2018, so it's -- at the very least -- conceivable he could've moved the needle in at least one of the 49ers' close losses.

[RELATED: Why 49ers should trade down from both first-round picks]

The 49ers would've picked no higher than No. 4 overall with a 5-11 record in 2018, and any additional wins would've dropped them further down the draft order. Acquiring Beckham under the parameters "Good Morning Football" put forth likely would've prevented the Niners from selecting all of Mike McGlinchey, Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel, but not all three of them would necessarily be Giants, either.

San Francisco would've been a better team in 2018, thus pushing the 49ers out of the slots they used to draft Bosa and Samuel. That's a different opportunity cost to consider than trading all of those players straight-up for one of the game's best receivers, but it's one the 49ers probably are glad they didn't have to pay.

2020 NFL Draft: Why 49ers should trade down both first-round picks

2020 NFL Draft: Why 49ers should trade down both first-round picks

The 49ers had only six picks in the 2020 NFL Draft before trading Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. San Francisco owned the No. 31 pick, and no others until the fifth round.

That trade brought in the No. 13 pick, but the 49ers probably aren't done dealing. Trading down to acquire more, much-needed draft capital is the likeliest scenario.

While much of the 49ers Faithful drool over what the top wide receivers in the draft would look like in coach Kyle Shanahan’s system, it's far from a given that the team will use that first pick on a receiver. For one, the 49ers still don't own any picks in the second, third and fourth rounds. For another, receiver is one of the deepest positions in the draft and the 49ers arguably have a bigger need.

Joe Staley is under contract through the 2021 season, but the veteran left tackle was understandably emotional after the 49ers' loss in Super Bowl LIV. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey indirectly indicated that Staley’s decision to return for the 2020 season was not set in stone.

The 49ers would be best served in hedging their bet that Staley returns and using one of their first-round picks on a left tackle. Even if Staley returns, the 49ers will need a replacement for him in the not-so-distant future. 

The draft's top tackles likely will be taken before the 49ers' first pick, but there still should be quality options available in the 20s or later. The 49ers could trade down, while Houston's Josh Jones or USC's Austin Jackson is still available, and then acquire another pick.

Listen and subscribe to the 49ers Insider Podcast:

Let's say trading the No. 13 pick nets the 49ers a first- and early second-round pick. Dealing the No. 31 pick would also come into play.

The 49ers drafted Deebo Samuel No. 36 overall in 2019. Samuel proved to be very productive in Shanahan’s system, catching 57 of his 81 targets for 802 yards. He ranked second on the team in receiving yards only behind First Team All-Pro tight end George Kittle. 

Shanahan's staff had an advantage in getting to know Samuel while at the Senior Bowl, but they have shown that a second-round receiver can become a key contributor. 

[RELATED: Buckner's exit could influence 49ers to trade down in draft]

Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson's draft trade value chart lists the No. 31 pick as worth a mid-second-round pick and a high third-round pick or a high second-round pick and a mid-fourth-round pick, among other permutations. Trading both first-round picks could give the 49ers three additional picks in rounds where they currently have none.

The 49ers would end draft weekend with nine selections in this scenario, as opposed to their original six. They'd also have fresh, valuable talent at important positions on their roster.