49ers

Why 49ers should consider signing former Chiefs safety Eric Berry

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USATSI

Why 49ers should consider signing former Chiefs safety Eric Berry

The 49ers need help in the secondary, and upon the new league year, the Chiefs released veteran safety Eric Berry. He could provide instant leadership and competition in San Francisco's young secondary. 

The fifth overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft, Berry has been a first-team All-Pro three times and was selected to five Pro Bowls. He has, however, been hampered by injuries after a successful return from fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

Berry has played in just three games over the past two seasons. In 2018, he dealt with a heel injury called Haglund’s deformity. It occurs when a bone spur has contact with and causes pain in the Achilles tendon. He sat out most of the 2017 season due to a ruptured Achilles.

Outside of the injuries, the Chiefs will save over $15 million over the next two years by releasing Berry. He had signed a six-year, $78 million contract in 2017 after getting hit with the franchise tag in 2016. 

The Chiefs also agreed to terms with Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu in a three-year, $42 million deal, which made moving forward without Berry inevitable. 

Berry is not just valuable when he's on the field. He would be a strong presence in the 49ers' locker room, which is the type of player general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan look to add. Berry earned the Kansas City's Derrick Thomas Award in 2015 and 2016, given to the team’s most valuable player, voted on by his teammates.

Berry also might be willing to agree to a short-term "prove-it" deal as a result of his injuries. 

The 49ers already have a few players who need to get healthy before seeing the field, but Berry, like cornerback Richard Sherman, could provide another coach and mentor for the young secondary while also providing competition to a group that includes Jaquiski Tartt, Adrian Colbert and Marcell Harris.

[RELATED: 49ers target Earl Thomas reportedly heading to Ravens]

Berry played in 89 games in nine seasons with the Chiefs. His career numbers include 440 tackles of which 372 were solo, 5.5 sacks, 14 interceptions, 51 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

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.