Ahkello Witherspoon’s first playoff appearance was short lived. In fact, the third-year cornerback’s postseason debut last just one series, and ended when he gave up a 41-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs.
That was enough for head coach Kyle Shanahan, who made the call in replacing Witherspoon with second-year player Emmanuel Mosley. Shanahan said after the game that Witherspoon knew he’d be on a short leash.
Witherspoon was targeted frequently on the drive, and also was called for a pass interference on Diggs that led to a first down. It’s the second consecutive rough outing for Witherspoon, who was also benched on the final drive of the 49ers’ last-second win over the Seahawks, after giving up two second half touchdowns.
After Saturday’s win, Witherspoon remained optimistic.
“First and foremost I think faith in God, faith in my path and my diligence and my commitment to the game and my commitment to the craft,” Witherspoon said. “Not all the plays go your way. I play a tough position and the biggest thing is I’ve got guys behind me that can come in and help us win a football game. Because ultimately it’s about the team and we’re just trying to get to that next step, whatever that may be.”
Did he take issue with the pass interference call?
“No, because that’s what he called. I can’t spend time on that. I play the game hard, play the game at a competitive level, and once again not every play goes your way. The important thing is moving on and learning from it.”
Witherspoon was playing at a Pro Bowl level for the first three games of the season before spraining his foot. Moseley didn’t miss a beat as his replacement for the next eight games, but since Witherspoon’s return to the lineup, he hasn’t looked the same.
Expect Moseley to get the start in the NFC Championship Game next weekend.