© Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
SANTA CLARA — Richard Sherman has long prided himself on gaining an advantage with extensive film breakdown. Never the fastest or strongest cornerback, Sherman largely wins with intelligence and anticipation, traits that are cultivated through learning.
That’s why Sherman’s praise for Kyle Shanahan’s film breakdown is no small compliment.
“He’s incredible,” Sherman said Wednesday. “(Shanahan is) a savant in that regard. He has a great understanding of his scheme schematically, how to manipulate the scheme, and how to help other people understand how the scheme is being manipulated, where the holes are, when somebody makes an adjustment, where the new hole is. He’s as good as anybody I’ve ever seen at that.”
Shanahan is known for dissecting the minute details of one play, rather than flipping through several plays in quick succession. Three weeks ago, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh lauded Shanahan for his meticulousness.
“He’s vicious when it comes to film work and all that,” Saleh said. “It’s awesome because there’s no stone left unturned with him.”
During the first week of training camp, Shanahan centered a coaching point on the viral clip of Marquise Goodwin beating Sherman in a one-on-one drill during practice. It was Sherman’s first time putting on pads in about eight months, yet he lined up across from one of the fastest receivers in the league to start the drill. Shanahan complimented the three-time All-Pro cornerback’s confidence.
Sherman put that play, and Shanahan’s coaching point, in perspective Wednesday.
“That was a great coaching point,” Sherman said. “At the end of the day, I’m not concerned about the outside world and ‘Oh, man, he got beat in practice.’ Like, I have been beat a ton in practice. I have been beat probably thousands of times in practice. But the amount of times I’m beat on a Sunday with the lights on is very limited.”
“That’s like you guys putting out an article that’s a rough draft and putting it out for everybody to see,” Sherman said. “It’s like, ‘Hey, this is a rough draft. Yes, it has some typos, some mistakes, some notes, some stuff that doesn’t look right— the wording is off, no commas, no periods, yada, yada, yada. But this is a rough draft. I’m sorry that you saw it before I put out the final product.’ What we see on Sunday is the final product, so I think you get kind of lost in that.”
Sherman has steadily worked his way back to the field from injuries. He slowly progressed into team drills during the second week of training camp as he recovered from a torn Achilles suffered last November. Then, he injured his hamstring as he tracked down Pierre Garcon on the sideline. Sherman has not played in either of the first two preseason games, though he said he could have.
He said his hamstring and Achilles “are feeling great.” He plans to play Saturday.
“I’m not really concerned with how (those injuries are) going to respond,” Sherman said.
Cedric Thornton retires
The 49ers re-signed defensive lineman Chris Jones after Cedric Thornton retired Wednesday. Thornton, 30, played five years in the NFL with Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo, and San Francisco. Thornton signed with the 49ers on July 25, his second stint with the team. He recorded two tackles in the preseason opener but did not play in last Saturday’s matchup with the Texans.
“Sometimes, veterans get to that point where they know they don’t want to do it anymore,” Saleh said. “But to his credit, he was thinking about a lot of people while he was going through that process. So, a lot of respect for that man and how he handled it.”
C.J. Beathard returns
Several key players returned to practice in recent days. C.J. Beathard, who suffered a foot sprain last Saturday, practiced Wednesday. On Tuesday, K’Waun Williams (ankle), Arik Armstead (hamstring), and Solomon Thomas (concussion) participated in individual drills. Williams and Armstead have not played a preseason game this year. Thomas left the preseason opener during the first drive.
The third preseason game typically features the starters more than any of the other three exhibitions. The first-team units will play most of, if not the entire, first half Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts. This week is being treated like a typical week of practice during the regular season.
“You want them to get into that routine to where all seven days are all kind of Groundhog Day over and over,” Shanahan said Tuesday. “So, you want them to know what they’re going to expect Week 1.”