Richard Sherman

49ers notes: Richard Sherman cleared for individual on-field work

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usati

49ers notes: Richard Sherman cleared for individual on-field work

SANTA CLARA – Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman reached a milestone in his return from Achilles surgery this week as he began performing individual drills.

The 49ers wrap up their official offseason program on Wednesday, and Sherman said he easily could have been cleared for full work by now if he was in a position to be competing for a roster spot.

“It’s right on par with what we expected,” Sherman said on Tuesday. “The body is feeling good. If I wasn’t an eight-year vet, I’d probably be out there getting more reps in. But they don’t feel I need the reps, and I don’t think I need the reps. So it works out.”

Sherman is on pace to step be practicing without any limitations at or near the beginning of training camp, which is set to open in late-July. He sustained a season-ending ruptured right Achilles in November while a member of the Seattle Seahawks. He also underwent a procedure on his left heel early in the offseason to remove bone spurs.

“There’ve been no setbacks. I know that’s the goal. That’s what we’re targeting, really what we’re expecting,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We’re going to be very cautious, too. Not promising you it’ll be that day, but that’s what we’re looking to and there’s been no reason to think differently.”

Sherman went through drills before practice in which he backpedaled and changed direction to break on thrown passes. Once practice began, he took his standard position during organized team activities (OTAs) as a fully engaged bystander.

“It’s been fun to watch guys grow during the OTA practices, but it’s also frustrating when you know most of the plays that are coming and how they’re going to attack you but you can’t do anything from the sideline but tell guys where to be and when to be there,” Sherman said.

In other 49ers notes and observations:

--Wide receiver Trent Taylor underwent a procedure this offseason to remove bone spurs from his lower back, according to the 49ers. He has not participated in OTAs, but Shanahan said there is no concern about Taylor missing time once camp opens.

“We were patient with it and it was still bothering him right before OTAs,” Shanahan said. “So we went in and cleaned some things up. He’ll be good to go by training camp.”

--Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s favorite target during practice Tuesday was tight end George Kittle, who made four catches over the middle out of the 13 passes Garoppolo attempted. Cornerback Tyvis Powell intercepted a Garoppolo pass intended for wide receiver Aaron Burbridge.

--Rookie receiver Dante Pettis had a standout day with four catches, including a 30-yard over-the-shoulder reception of a C.J. Beathard pass. The catch came against tight coverage from Tararvius Moore. On the next play of the move-the-chains period, Beathard hit Burbridge for a 6-yard TD pass against the coverage of Terrell Williams.

--Reuben Foster and Malcolm Smith lined up as the starting inside linebackers. Smith is playing middle linebacker, which is responsible for the communication on the defense. Foster is remaining at the weakside position, at which he played last season.

“We kind of like Reuben just running around and not having to worry about as much,” Shanahan said.

'Coach Sherman' stands out in first week of 49ers OTAs

'Coach Sherman' stands out in first week of 49ers OTAs

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was zipping passes to a variety of receivers at all different levels of the defense.

Running back Jerick McKinnon lined up at a number of spots in the 49ers’ offensive formation and caught passes with ease, showing the skills that prompted Kyle Shanahan to target him for his offense.

Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner looked as if he is ready to take the next step to become one of the NFL’s top defensive players.

But the star of the first week of 49ers organized team activities was a veteran player who has yet to be cleared for takeoff.

When the 49ers signed Richard Sherman shortly after the Seattle Seahawks released him, he said he envisions his contributions to his new team to be split equally between on and off the field.  And, sure enough, nobody appeared to be as engaged in the practices in Week 1 of OTAs than Sherman.

“It’s always nice when you have someone who has a lot of experience in a very similar system,” Shanahan said. “The foundation of it all came from the same spot, and when you’ve got a guy that has played in it that long and really started in that system and has kind of excelled in it as good as anyone, it’s nice to have.”

"Coach Sherman," as he's already being called, is embracing his role as a leader on the defense, as he mentors cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, Jimmie Ward and all of the newcomers. In his seven seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, Sherman was named to the Pro Bowl four times. The 49ers' defensive scheme is based on the Seattle defense.

During a period of practice this week when special teams took over, Sherman was also seen engaging in an animated conversation with Shanahan on the sideline going over some of the topics discussed in a team meeting.

“We both have a lot of history playing against each other’s teams so there’s lots of stuff that when we talk X’s and O’s, it brings up a couple plays from year’s prior,” Shanahan said. “We could sit there and hang out and talk all day about.”

Stanford's Meeks dreams of learning from 49ers' Sherman

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AP

Stanford's Meeks dreams of learning from 49ers' Sherman

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers are likely to select a cornerback within the first three rounds of next week’s NFL Draft.

Stanford’s Quenton Meeks would like nothing more than to be chosen, so he can continue to learn from one of his mentors.

“Richard Sherman is a Hall of Famer, and we have similar body types.” Meeks said. “All of our combine numbers – it’s kind of scary – it’s almost identical in all of them.”

Meeks (6-foot-2, 205) has the size the 49ers want from a cornerback in this scheme. At the combine in 2011, Sherman, who also attended Stanford, measured 6-3, 195. Meeks ran the three-cone drill at 6.72, compared to Sherman’s 6.82. Meeks’ 20-yard shuttle was 4.23, while Sherman’s was 4.33.

“He even told me I remind him of himself, so that was the biggest compliment I’ve gotten,” Meeks said Wednesday at the 49ers' local pro day at Levi's Stadium. "I look up to him so much, and I try to model my game after him. He’s so smart. He’s always a step ahead.”

Meeks said he expects to selected in the second or third round, and the 49ers are among the teams that have shown the most interest during the pre-draft process.

“That would be a dream come true, honestly – just to learn from the best,” Meeks said of Sherman. “I think he’s still the best corner in the game right now. It takes someone who really knows how to study corners to see what he does really well. He always disrupts the receivers. The amount of times he gets thrown at during a game is very little, because if you throw at him, there’s a big chance it’s going to get intercepted.”

Meeks said he spoke with Sherman during the season to get some tips before a game against Arizona State. He wanted some advice on going up against 6-4 wide receiver N’Keal Harry.

Harry, who caught 82 passes for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns on the season, was held to just three receptions for 40 yards against Stanford. None of the receptions came when Meeks was in coverage against him, he said.

"He really helped me," Meeks said. "I asked him, in particular, one game I was playing this bigger receiver, so I asked him for some tips. He gave some tips, and I locked down that game and didn't allow a single catch."