Recently, the San Francisco 49ers held a press conference for their new acquisition; former All-Pro and Pro-Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman. And there’s one thing, in particular, that stood out about his press conference, “Sherman is a Leader of Men.”
Drum roll, and roll call, please. I’d like to take the time to re-introduce, “The New Legion of Red and Gold.”
Richard Sherman (LCB)- In his seven seasons; Sherman all 6′ 3″ 195lbs., has appeared in 105 games, starting 99 of those contests while accounting for 377 combined tackles, 104 passes defended, five forced fumbles, one sack, 32 interceptions (four in 2016, two in 2017), and two returned for touchdowns.
Sherman’s Pro Football Focus grade: 82.7 overall, coverage 82.0, run defense 90.9 with 572 total snaps played on defense in 2017.
Sherman achieved four Pro Bowl honors and three First-Team All-Pro invites while establishing himself as one of the best and most feared cornerbacks/defensive players in the National Football League. He leads a talented/up and coming young secondary as a student of the game and a mentor to help teach his fellow teammates the cover three scheme of defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
Ahkello Witherspoon (RCB)– In his rookie season; Witherspoon, all 6’3 198 lbs., appeared in 12 games, starting nine of those contests while accounting for 32 combined tackles, seven passes defended, one forced fumbles and two interceptions.
Witherspoon showed promise down the stretch of the 49ers winning streak which is something Niners Live had to call out: Giving Credit where Credit is due; Featuring, “Ahkello Witherspoon.”
Witherspoon’s Pro Football Focus grade: 81.1 overall, coverage 80.7, run defense 79.4 with 660 total snaps played on defense in 2017.
K’Waun Williams (nickel back)- In his three seasons; Williams all 5′ 9″ 183lbs,, has appeared in 40 games, starting 15 of those contests while accounting for 130 combined tackles, 15 passes defended, five forced fumbles, three sacks ( one coming in 2017) and one interception (coming in 2017).
Williams signed to a three-year contract extension last season. Williams doesn’t have the ideal size you covet for a nickel corner, but he tries to make up for that with toughness and grit.
He’s also highly competitive as he plays with a chip on his shoulder from entering the league as an undrafted player. Williams play got better down the stretch of games in 2017, hopefully, he can build on that in 2018.
Williams’ Pro Football Focus grade: 80.2 overall, coverage 79.3, run defense 76.2 with 632 total snaps played on defense in 2017.
Adrian Colbert (FS)- Mr. Aka the “Punisher” with extreme violence; Colbert standing at 6’2 205 lbs., in his rookie season appeared in 14 games, starting six of those contests while accounting for 32 combined tackles, five passes defended, one forced fumble, no sacks, and zero interceptions.
Colbert has the range to play free/single high safety and he’s a violent hitter (hybrid safety) that loves the physical contact. Niners Live recently recap Colbert’s season (filling in for injured players) more in-depth with: Looking back on Adrian Colbert’s impact on Robert Saleh’s defense.
Colbert’s Pro Football Focus grade: 77.6 overall, coverage 80.0, run defense 60.8 with 530 total snaps played on defense in 2017.
Jacquiski Tartt (SS)- Mr. Aka the “Missile” with extreme violence; Tartt is 6’1 221 lbs. In his three seasons, he has appeared in 39 games, starting 22 of those contests while accounting for 167 combined tackles, nine passes defended, three and a half sacks, one forced fumbles and two interceptions (one coming in 2017).
Niners Live back on October 17, 2017, didn’t mince words when we discussed: Why Jacquiski Tartt is the Most Improved Player on Defense. Per PFF, Tartt received honorable mention in the first quarter 2017 All-Pro team. What Tartt brings to the table needs no re-introduction but if you need a reference check, see article above.
Tartt’s Pro Football Focus grade: 85.8 overall (4th highest on the team), coverage 86.4, run defense 73.7 with 595 total snaps played on defense in 2017.
Honorable Mention- Free safety Jimmie Ward could make his way into this projected starting lineup of the New Red and Gold. However, he’ll have to overcome an injury-plagued career (Ward’s career/attributes are broken down in the article) that has limited his full impact/production on the football field: Will Safety Jimmie Ward ever Shake his Injury Prone Reputation?
Richard Sherman, “The new leader of the Legion of Red and Gold.”
Sherman is the bonafide leader of this secondary, he’ll lead the charge and way to fully digesting Saleh’s defense, in year two, with an attitude and swag not seen in years past.
After all, as he said in the video aforementioned he knows the scheme/defense like the back of his hand. Recap notes: Ward allowed Sherman to take his number twenty-five jersey and now Ward will wear number twenty, for the record.
Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course. Often imitated, but never duplicated.
All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Content Creator, player break down specialist, Co-Editor, Sequoia Sims