The San Francisco 49ers are going to be very cautious with Richard Sherman. That much is certain. They'd be crazy not to. But the fact remains that Sherman's Achilles has been fully cleared for the start of training camp.
Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Wednesday that Sherman will get one day off for every two days he practices. Even when Sherman is participating, his reps are expected to be significantly limited at first.
But make no mistake, Sherman doesn't plan on holding back when he's put on the field. The three-time All-Pro only knows one speed.
"When I go out there, I expect to dominate," Sherman said flatly. "I expect to play at a high level when I'm in there. I expect to make my stops, to play my technique, to be where I'm supposed to be and when I'm supposed to be there."
Sherman's time on the sideline will be used similarly to how he spent the offseason program – making sure his fellow defensive backs are locked in every play.
"I expect to be a great teammate – to encourage my young guys when I'm not practicing and to watch them grow in their technique and their abilities," he explained.
Finally, he knows part of his role as a veteran leader is to hold his teammates accountable. Sherman will test his counterparts just as he expects to be tested all the same. He even dropped the oft-used "iron sharpens iron" cliché as a way to reinforce the importance of the next month.
"I expect this team to come together and to play at a high level on offense and on defense," Sherman said. "That's what training camp is for – to build a strong foundation of playing good football, and that's what we plan to do."
Sherman is joining a team riding the high of a five-game winning streak to close out last season. But as both Sherman and Shanahan explained on Wednesday, those wins are meaningless at this point. The rest of the team appears to be of the same mindset.
"I don't think anybody is thinking about last year or what happened," Sherman said. "It was a 6-10 team who didn't make the playoffs. The few positives that came from last year were taken and appreciated, but it was still a six-win team at the end of the day and you're still picking in the top 10 of the draft.
"That's the way guys are approaching it. Guys are hungry. They're excited to get out there and prove that this is a great team."
It's a bit poetic that Sherman has joined a team with so much to prove, given the current state of his own career. Sherman has not been shy about challenging his naysayers who don't believe he can make it back into form following his Achilles tear. But the corner assured reporters that he's 100 percent.
If Sherman is in fact able to reclaim his spot among the NFL's elite, he may just help resurrect the 49ers simultaneously. Because Sherman didn't sign with San Francisco just to be a mentor, and he most definitely didn't join the 49ers to go on vacation in January.