Assuming Richard Sherman can recover from the Achilles injury that cut his 2017 season short after nine games, the 49ers have addressed their need at cornerback for next season. But it’s not just Sherman’s production on the field that piqued the 49ers’ interest.
General manager John Lynch mentioned in a press release that the 49ers want Sherman to “mentor their players.” One of those players in question is likely last year’s third-round draft pick Ahkello Witherspoon, who was arguably the team’s best cornerback in 2017. Like Sherman, Witherspoon is a big cornerback (6-foot-3) ideal for Robert Saleh’s scheme.
49ers beat writer Matt Barrows joined Murph & Mac on Monday morning, and went so far as say that the 49ers hope Witherspoon will turn into Richard Sherman part two with the right mentoring.
“It just seems like the idea is that you bring in Richard Sherman to help make Ahkello Witherspoon into Richard Sherman part two,” Barrows said. “In order for that to happen, Witherspoon has to play and play a lot. If you brought in Malcom Butler or somebody else, that would be difficult to do. I do think that the draft is still a big possibility at that position. That’s one of the longer positions in the draft, a spot where you can find a good guy in the middle rounds, where they found Witherspoon last year. That’s just my sense. That doesn’t mean that they can’t bring in a lesser known cornerback.
“I think the grand plan is to have that mentor-mentee relationship that I described earlier.”
On his first conference call with the Bay Area media on Monday, Sherman was asked about Witherspoon.
“I didn’t necessarily watch his highlights, but I watched tape on any of the young guys,” Sherman said. “He was a guy who came out with similar measurables to me, you know, height and weight, and things like that. I think he is a heck of a player.”
Listen to the full interview below. To hear Barrows on Witherspoon/Sherman, skip to 5:10