Richard Sherman
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Sam Darnold and the New York Jets offense’s matchup against the San Francisco 49ers’ fantastic defense (2nd in DVOA a season ago) now looks a bit less daunting.

According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the 49ers are placing star cornerback Richard Sherman on injured reserve. That would keep him out for the next three weeks, which, of course, means he will not be suiting up at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

The 49ers have struggled to hold up in the few instances where Sherman did not take the field for them. Since adding the future Hall-of-Fame corner in 2018, San Francisco has an 0-3 record in games without Sherman. In those games, the 49ers defense allowed 30.0 points per game and yielded a 7-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Back in 2017, Sherman missed the final seven games of Seattle’s season, the only games he missed as a member of the Seahawks. Without Sherman, Pete Carroll’s team finished the season 3-4 while allowing 22.9 points per game after going 6-3 and allowing 18.3 points per game with him on the field. It is the only seven-game stretch of sub-.500 play Seattle has had since 2016, and one of only two since 2012.

Sherman, 32, still demands plenty of respect from opposing offenses in his 10th NFL season. Over 52 snaps in coverage against Arizona in Week 1, Sherman was targeted only twice and allowed no first down receptions. Last season, Sherman allowed the fewest yards per cover snap among qualified cornerbacks (0.44).

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This is promising news for the outside wide receiver duo of Breshad Perriman and Chris Hogan. In their Jets debuts, Perriman and Hogan combined for 17 receiving yards on nine targets (1.9 per target). Out of 91 qualified wide receivers in Week 1 (3+ targets), Perriman (0.44 yards/route) and Hogan (0.00 yards/route) ranked 87th and 89th, respectively, in yards per route run.

A turnaround was not looking likely against a Sherman-led 49ers secondary that allowed a league-low 5.9 yards per pass attempt in 2019, but now, the wide receiver group may have a little more room to get into a groove (if the protection can hold up against Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and Javon Kinlaw).

San Francisco’s No. 2 corner, Emmanuel Moseley, allowed 9-of-13 passing in his direction for 82 yards and five first downs against DeAndre Hopkins and the Cardinals last week, also committing one penalty.

The 49ers are banged up at cornerback, currently dealing with two other key injuries in addition to Sherman. Veteran Jason Verrett missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury and it remains unclear if he will be healthy enough to make his season debut on Sunday. Fourth-year man Ahkello Witherspoon is in concussion protocol and also has his status up in the air.

Sixth-year cornerback Dontae Johnson was promoted from the practice squad today to account for the injuries. Johnson has been a liability in coverage throughout his career, allowing 11 touchdowns, two interceptions, 8.1 yards per target, and a 102.1 passer rating.

It looks like Darnold and Adam Gase may be catching the 49ers defense at the right time. Can they take advantage?

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