Can 49ers Richard Sherman keep it up entering 2020?
By Peter Panacy
Projected role, future with 49ers in 2020 and beyond
It’s pretty clear what the Niners expect out of Richard Sherman this season. They’ll want him to reassume that No. 1 cornerback role on the defense, also mentoring what’s still a relatively young crop of corners aside him.
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But the depth, particularly on the boundary, is questionable. Yes, No. 2 cornerback Emmanuel Moseley likely lines up opposite Sherman on the outside. Reserve corners Ahkello Witherspoon, Dontae Johnson, Jason Verrett and DeMarkus Acy aren’t exactly promising options both as insurance for a would-be Sherman injury and/or long-term free-agent departure.
That brings up the question whether or not Sherman will return to San Francisco in 2021. With next year’s salary cap expected to decrease to $175 million and the 49ers no longer swimming in cap space, re-signing Sherman, who’ll be 33 years old, no longer seems like a guarantee.
If he does come back, one possible thought is to convert him to strong safety — a potential measure he already discussed, which also makes sense with the current starter, Jaquiski Tartt, also entering a contract year.
This is one potential route, freeing up Sherman to play closer to the box where strength and physicality mean a little more than on the outside. Or it’s just as possible the 49ers want him to stay as a bridge to a younger crop of cornerbacks in the coming years.
At any rate, San Francisco is expecting no less high-quality play from one of its top defensive playmakers from last season.
And there’s little reason to assume Sherman would provide anything less.