Before the San Francisco 49ers even put the pads on during this year’s training camp, wide receiver Dante Pettis had secured an up-close look at a fully healthy Richard Sherman.
It’s a sight that Sherman himself and the Niners had been eagerly anticipating, but one that undoubtedly made life far more difficult on Pettis as he began his second NFL season.nfl jerseys cheap nike
“I mean, that guy is, like, unreal,” Pettis said three days into camp. “If I don’t bring my best stuff every time, he knows. He called me out today and was like, ‘That wasn’t what you normally do.’ So OK, that’s true. I gotta bring something else; I gotta get better next time.”
For Sherman, the 2019 season is his own personal next time. Indeed, last season was his first since the devastating Achilles tendon tear that cost him the final seven games of the 2017 season. But to say it was Sherman’s first fully healthy season in roughly three years would be inaccurate.
Sherman did everything he could to adjust to the sutures clawing into his heel, remaining conscious of each movement he made and knowing the corresponding amount of pain that was sure to follow.
“And then there’s still a staple in your heel,” Sherman said. “Mechanically, I could do it. But it’s like driving your car with a nail in the tire. It’s like technically your car is still rolling, but you still got the nail in the tire.”
Despite that, Sherman managed to be the Niners’ top cornerback in 2018, allowing just one catch per 20.2 coverage snaps, third in the league among cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. And opponents still showed Sherman plenty of respect, opting to throw away from him as the Niners’ other corners struggled to produce.
Now, as Sherman enters his ninth NFL season and second with the 49ers after seven seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, he finally feels like himself again. He had the sutures removed in late February and was able to go through an offseason of training to play games rather than the grueling and extensive rehab of a year ago. He even began training camp by declaring on social media that he is about to have his best season yet.nike nfl jerseys for cheap
Back in the spring, teammates and coaches noticed an obvious pep in Sherman’s step that was missing last season.
“For him to come this year and be totally healthy, where Day 1 he wasn’t rehabbing, he was in the strength and conditioning program and working out, now we get to see how he probably has always looked,” San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I think he played, got through the year playing well, but he wasn’t as healthy as he has been. The guy that I see right now is a much better athlete than the guy I saw last year — stronger, bigger, faster, healthier. I assume that’s more how he looked the years before.”
Not that Sherman has ever lacked for confidence, but believing he is close to his former self is rooted in what a physically healthy body can do for his mentality.
Rather than thinking through every move, Sherman is back to reacting, just playing the game. Thoughts of how and where to plant his right foot have been replaced by instinctual reactions and accompanying movements that have made him one of the game’s best corners for nearly a decade.