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Out of nowhere, the 49ers now have a massive injury concern at a position where they have very limited depth. According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, Richard Sherman is heading to injured reserve with a leg injury.
The #49ers are placing CB Richard Sherman on IR today, sources say. He’ll be sidelined at least three weeks. Exact injury unclear but am told it’s a leg issue.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) September 16, 2020
According to Ian Rapoport, the 32-year-old Sherman suffered a calf strain, which, it’s always important to remember, is a partial muscle tear (and a term used by teams to downplay the severity of injuries), but less severe than a full muscle tear. New injured reserve rules allow for players to return after three games. If healthy, Sherman could return, at earliest, for the Week 5 matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
Just a calf strain for CB Richard Sherman, and a few weeks of rest and rehab… https://t.co/zUTDh3WACy
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 16, 2020
This is a wholly unexpected move, as Sherman was not mentioned by head coach Kyle Shanahan after Sunday’s game as picking up an injury, nor was he mentioned Monday. It leaves the 49ers brutally thin at corner, with just two reliable, healthy corner options in Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon.
Outside of that pairing, there is Jason Verrett, still on the active roster, but dealing with a hamstring injury and notoriously, unfortunately, chronically injured. Then, there are two practice squad players in Dontae Johnson, who is a player that should not see an NFL field in a non-special teams role, and Tim Harris Jr., who was not impressive in training camp, and played almost exclusively with the backups.
Cornerback was a position of glaring need for the 49ers this offseason, at least as far as building depth for the future and preparing for this upcoming offseason. They lost D.J. Reed Jr. to a torn pectoral with a non-football injury and waived him, before he was claimed by the Seattle Seahawks. General manager John Lynch pointed to Harris as a promising option, as “a guy that we’re excited about working with moving forward,” and cause for why the team didn’t invest in the corner spot, despite multiple options being available in late rounds.
There will likely be no choice but to invest in the corner position this offseason, as the overwhelming majority of the secondary, including the following players, expires: Richard Sherman, Jaquiski Tartt, Ahkello Witherspoon, K’Waun Williams, Tim Harris Jr., Jason Verrett, Dontae Johnson, Emmanuel Moseley (restricted)