INDIANAPOLIS – The San Francisco 49ers could not have asked for a better debut from Richard Sherman. The veteran corner saw his first game action in 2018 on Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3 of the preseason.
For what was the "dress rehearsal" for the rest of the team stood as the starting point for Sherman. First and foremost, Sherman made it out healthy. His Achilles didn't appear to be an issue. The hamstring he injured earlier in camp also held up just fine. Sherman recorded a pass breakup on the only play in which he was targeted in coverage, deflecting a throw from Andrew Luck intended for Ryan Grant.
From an onlooker's perspective, it appeared to be a fine showing. Sherman concurred with that evaluation during his post-game press conference.
"There were some good plays, and there were some other plays that I felt rusty on," Sherman said. "Overall it felt pretty good – better than expected.
"I'm definitely ready to go, but you just never know how your body is going to respond to a heavy workload. … But I held up pretty well.
Sherman acknowledged that as a veteran, there are things he did to help slow the game down and reduce his overall workload. Those tricks can only help a player so much during a 10-plus-play scoring drive. Still, Sherman was pleased, as was his head coach.
"I think it was a success in terms of the amount of plays he got," Kyle Shanahan said postgame. "Just talking to him on the sideline it seemed like he felt real healthy. I think he got out what he wanted to. It looked like he was able to make a couple plays also."
Sherman played almost every snap of the first half along with the rest of the team's defensive starters. The 49ers opened the game with three consecutive stops before finally cracking in the second quarter. The Colts 10-play, 75-yard drive was capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to tight end Eric Ebron. Luck's 15-yard scramble to convert 3rd-and-13 was a killer for San Francisco's defense. The positive is that those were the only points relinquished by the 49ers in the first half.
The corner gave his group a "B-" grade.
"There were things we did well, but we let the quarterback scramble on 3rd-and-12," Sherman said. "We gave up a penalty on that drive. We gave up a pass up the seam. Those are plays that we'd love to have back."
For all of the tough love that the coaching staff is sure to give the defense, Sherman may be its biggest critic. He's the unquestioned leader on the field and was seen constantly communicating in between plays. Sherman will always call it like he sees it and do his best to keep everyone on the same page.
A healthy and productive Sherman will pay huge dividends for the 49ers in 2018. After a first glimpse, it appears that the three-time All-Pro is ready for the regular season.