Projected Impact and Role with the 49ers in 2018
Barring a complete flop during training camp and the preseason, Ahkello Witherspoon will be one of the 49ers’ two starting corners on the outside, with Richard Sherman taking the opposite side of the field.
Witherspoon flashed some ballhawking ability last year with those two interceptions, although it would be nice to see him use his positioning to increase turnover chances this season.
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Sherman, who remains one of the best at doing this, can help dramatically. And the young corner has certainly earned Sherman’s endorsement.
The veteran spoke of such, when describing Witherspoon in Robert Klemko’s article:
"I knew he would look the part. I knew, drill-wise, he wouldn’t be overwhelmed. His footwork is beautiful and technical. I knew that in terms of demeanor and just being able to just walk around and not be star-struck by these guys, he’d be fine. I think he belongs with those guys, and people will figure that out in a few months."
Week 1, however, will be the true test. Witherspoon no longer has the pressure of earning a starting job, let alone a roster spot. He’s expected to be there, and sometimes that can be more difficult to overcome than carving out a niche.
The good news, though, is Witherspoon has shown enough to justify the lofty expectations. And if Sherman is deterring quarterbacks from throwing his way, Witherspoon could just as easily be the prime benefactor, statistically, in making plays.
And San Francisco’s defense should be notably better as a result.