The San Francisco 49ers entered the season seeking revenge for their Super Bowl defeat, but injuries have decimated one of the NFL’s most talented rosters. In particular, the defense has suffered a number of critical blows.
Losing Nick Bosa to a torn ACL obviously stung the most, but not having Richard Sherman available has also played a role in the team’s 3-3 start. Unfortunately for 49ers fans, the team just received brutal news about their $27 million star.
Richard Sherman hasn’t played since Week 1
When Richard Sherman signed a three-year, $27.15 million contract with the 49ers two years ago, it represented a fairly significant risk for the team. After all, his 2017 season ended prematurely due to a torn Achilles—a devastating injury for an aging corner whose game was never predicated on speed.
Though the former Seattle Seahawks star locked down a starting spot, he finished the year with only 37 tackles, four passes defended, and zero interceptions. Last season, though, Sherman earned second-team All-Pro honors after picking off three passes and swatting away 11 more.
But like many of his 49ers teammates, Sherman’s 2020 season has not gone as planned. The NFL 2010s All-Decade Team selection suffered a calf injury in Week 1. On Sept. 16, San Francisco placed the five-time Pro Bowler on injured reserve. After playing all 16 games every year from 2012-2016, Sherman missed seven games in 2017, two in 2018, and one in 2019.
The 49ers just received brutal news about their $27 million star
Since Richard Sherman landed on IR, the 49ers have gone 3-2. Of course, the team has also been without several other key defenders, including Bosa, Dee Ford, and Kwon Alexander, who missed last week’s game with a high-ankle sprain.
While Sherman has proven capable of overcoming injuries, his calf ailment has taken longer than expected to heal. And based on Kyle Shanahan’s recent update, 49ers fans shouldn’t expect to see the star cornerback on the field anytime soon.
In speaking with the media, San Francisco’s head coach delivered some brutal news about the team’s $27 million star.
“I thought I’d have more answers this week, but I still think it’s going to be a few weeks on that,” Shanahan said. “It’s obviously going a little longer than we expected—gotta play it smart with him. But I don’t see it being week-to-week right now. I see it being probably till around our bye week.”
Can San Francisco survive without Sherman?
Considering their bye doesn’t take place until Week 11, Shanahan’s sobering update about Richard Sherman puts the 49ers’ season in jeopardy. Because based on their upcoming slate of opponents, San Francisco’s defense could get exposed against an elite crop of quarterbacks.
On Sunday, the 49ers will take on the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. While Cam Newton has not looked crisp in his last two appearances, he still presents a potential matchup problem given his ability to run.
On the other hand, the 49ers face a frightening three-game stretch before their bye. Next week, San Francisco will take on Sherman’s old team in Seattle. Russell Wilson, who looks like a top MVP candidate, should have no trouble carving up a depleted secondary.
The following week, the 49ers will have to figure out a way to slow down Aaron Rodgers. Like Wilson, the veteran has played at an MVP level this season. If his weapons continue to get healthy, the Green Bay Packers quarterback could also enjoy a monster day at the office.
Finally, San Francisco has to take on the New Orleans Saints on the road. Drew Brees may be 41 years old, but the future Hall of Famer has still put up solid numbers even with star receiver Michael Thomas sidelined.
The 49ers could very well lose all three games, especially with Sherman unavailable. At that point, San Francisco would enter its bye week with at least six losses, which would make it difficult for Shanahan’s squad to make the playoffs.
It looks like injuries will prevent Richard Sherman and Co. from living up to their potential this year.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.