Home Page

How Richard Sherman fits into 49ers' offseason plans

sherman-int-ap.jpg
AP

How Richard Sherman fits into 49ers' offseason plans

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan met newly available veteran cornerback Richard Sherman and his wife for dinner Friday night in Los Gatos.

“Just doing our due diligence,” Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Nothing to report, yet.”

Sherman, who is representing himself in talks with teams, can sign with any team at any time because the Seattle Seahawks released him on Friday. He is expected to undergo a physical on Saturday. Sherman sustained a season-ending right Achilles injury in November, and he recently had a "clean-up" procedure on his left Achilles.

Of course, the possibility of the 49ers adding Sherman to the mix before the start of free agency could impact the team’s strategy at its biggest position of need. The 49ers do not have a second starting cornerback. Sherman would fill that void.

Here are some pressing questions of 49ers fans (via Facebook) as the start of free agency nears:

If the 49ers sign Richard Sherman would they still be in play for Trumaine Johnson from the Rams?‬ (Jonathan Pitts‪)
I doubt the 49ers will be big players for Trumaine Johnson, regardless. It’s hard to believe that is a prudent move. The 49ers have made it clear they will target players who fit their model for sustained success. Johnson will command big money, and he has not been a take-half-the-field-away type of player that his price tag suggests he should be.

I would imagine signing Sherman would not preclude Lynch/Shanahan from signing another corner or two in free agency, right?‬ (‪Benson Collins)
The 49ers were extremely excited about the development of Ahkello Witherspoon as a rookie. But other than Witherspoon, the 49ers do not have a starter-caliber cornerback on their roster.

Two scheduled free agents who I believe are system fits – and, possibly salary fits – are Aaron Colvin (Jacksonville) and Rashaan Melvin (Indianapolis). Regardless of what happens with Sherman, I expect the 49ers to at least investigate the possibility of getting a deal done with either of those two players.

Are we done filling in the WR position for 2018? (Max Moorman)
No, but I do not expect the 49ers to break the bank on a high-priced wide receiver, such as Allen Robinson or Sammy Watkins. But we shall see.

The 49ers have reason to feel good about their top three: Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor in the slot.

Veteran Aldrick Robinson fits a role, and Kendrick Bourne has a chance to take a big step in his second season. Goodwin had his breakout season to earn a three-year contract extension through the 2021 season. I think the 49ers would like to work another receiver into the rotation so that Goodwin does not have to play as much as he did last season.

The 49ers’ best option might be to use a draft pick within the first three rounds on a player to develop – without the urgency to rush him into the action and become a major contributor as a rookie.

What about Alfred Morris, a cheap stopgap RB who knows Kyle's system and still draft a RB? Morris, Breida, Williams, rookie? (John Mayfield) 
The 49ers really appreciated Carlos Hyde’s approach last season. That said, I think they believe he is not the perfect fit for Shanahan’s scheme. Ideally, they would like a running back who can make more plays on his own.

Morris and Isaiah Crowell would both be very good options as free agents to pair with Matt Breida. It’s all about the cost, though. The door is open to re-sign Hyde. The markets of Hyde, Morris and Crowell will determine what happens in free agency.

The 49ers can be expected to sign a free agent. It could be a buyer’s market for veteran running backs because there are so many great options available in a very deep draft.

Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner fell in love with Joe Williams before last year’s draft. He has the skills the 49ers want from that position. However, Williams did not impress during the offseason program and training camp. He still has a chance, but now the onus is on him to prove himself or he will not make it to the regular-sesson roster.

Any news on Frank Gore's potential landing spots? (Isael Martin Ojeda Serrano)
I spoke at length with Frank Gore last weekend in Indianapolis. He wanted to talk a lot about the 49ers. You better believe he is watching what the 49ers are doing, and he definitely approves of the direction the team is heading under Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch.

I got the sense that Gore felt he would end up with a team. He told me his is not going to sign with just any team for 2018. He does not want to "pad his stats." He wants to play somewhere that makes sense for both parties.

But I do not believe the 49ers will be that team. He is not a great fit for what Shanahan wants from his offense at this stage.

But when I brought up the subject of Gore returning to the 49ers on a ceremonial contract after he has played his final NFL game, Gore could not have been any more enthusiastic. That will almost certainly happen.

Sacramento native Rhys Hoskins reaches Home Run Derby semis

hoskinsusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Sacramento native Rhys Hoskins reaches Home Run Derby semis

WASHINGTON — Bryce Harper thrilled the home crowd and surely made his father proud, winning the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday night with an exceptional display of power that carried him past Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs 19-18.

Harper hit the contest-winning blast in extra time, the reward for hitting two homers at least 440 feet during the 4 minutes of regulation. After he connected with the game winner, the Washington Nationals slugger threw his bat in the air and pointed both index fingers toward the sky as a shower of streamers rained upon the crowd of 43,698.

The six-time All-Star arranged to have his dad, Ron, pitch to him in the annual contest on the eve of the All-Star Game. Harper responded with a performance that drew the loudest cheers of the night at Nationals Park.

It’s been a trying season for Harper, who’s hitting only .214 for the disappointing Nationals. He won a contest that many sluggers avoid, fearful it might wear them out and throw them off.

Harper can only hope this helps him get back into the swing.

The 2015 NL MVP beat Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves and Max Muncy of the Dodgers before trumping the fifth-seeded Schwarber, who put the pressure on with a solid outing before Harper stepped to the plate.

Wearing a headband that resembled the District of Columbia flag and displaying a right sleeve with stars and stripes, Harper trailed 18-9 with 1:20 left before rallying. He homered on nine of his last 10 swings before entering extra time.

Hours before the session, Harper spoke excitedly about having his dad pitch to him in the contest. The 25-year-old said his father “worked his tail off every single day to provide for me and my family” and “now being able to have him throw to me in a big league ballpark is the cherry on top.”

Harper advanced to the final with an astonishing spree of long-ball hitting. He trailed Max Muncy of the Dodgers 12-4 with 2:20 left, then peeled off six homers in 47 seconds before calling a timeout.

Harper returned to hit three more home runs in 22 seconds, the last of them inside the right-field foul pole.

The semifinal matchup between Schwarber and Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins was a thriller. After stunning top-seed Jesus Aguilar of Milwaukee in the opening round, the eighth-seeded Hoskins ripped 20 long balls to put the pressure on Schwarber.

Using a late surge, Schwarber pulled one ball after another over the right field wall to squeeze out a 21-20 victory — by far the highest-scoring matchup of the night.

The fans dutifully cheered most home runs during the first round, but they saved their loudest cheers for Harper, the last player to step to the plate.

After Freeman hit 12 home runs over the 4-minute span, Harper unleashed six shots of at least 440 feet and secured the victory with a drive to center long before the clock expired. As the ball cleared the wall, the left-handed hitting Harper walked out of the batter’s box and thrust both arms in the air.

Freeman was the oldest player in the field at 28, and the first Braves participant since Andruw Jones in 2005.

Milwaukee’s Aguilar, the NL home run leader at the break, was eliminated in the opening round by Hoskins 17-12.

Aguilar hit too many balls to straightaway center, where the wall stands over 400 feet from the plate. Hoskins pumped most of his drives into the left-field seats, where it’s 336 feet down the line.

The most thrilling first-round match featured a near buzzer-beater by Houston’s Alex Bregman, who fell to Schwarber 16-15. The difference was the pair of homers that Schwarber hit during 30 seconds of extra time, the reward for hitting two long balls of at least 440 feet.

Bregman — the lone AL representative — appeared defeated with a minute left, but he mounted a late surge and lost when his final swing produced a drive that landed at the base of the center-field wall.

Muncy advanced by defeating No. 6 seed Javier Baez of the Cubs, 16-15. Baez hit the longest shot of the Derby, a 479-footer.

Aaron Rodgers hits fan jumping off a boat in Tahoe in stride with perfect throw

rodgersap.jpg
AP

Aaron Rodgers hits fan jumping off a boat in Tahoe in stride with perfect throw

Green Bay Packers quarterback (and former Cal Golden Bear) Aaron Rodgers is known for his downfield accuracy. 

Rodgers has three successful Hail Marys to his name. The first, on Dec. 3, 2015 against the Detroit Lions, kept his team's playoff hopes alive. Another, on Jan. 16, 2016 against the Arizona Cardinals, sent the Divisional game to overtime, and a third came en route to a Wild Card game win against the New York Giants on Jan. 8, 2007. 

At the American Century Championship Celebrity Golf Tournament in Lake Tahoe on Friday, Rodgers added another notch to his belt.

His latest effort won't be confused with the other three, but it's not like any of those receivers landed in a body of water, either. 

The real question? Whether or not that's a catch under the NFL's new rules.