San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon started nine games as a rookie in 2017. While he was forced into the full-time starter role after the 49ers traded Rashard Robinson to the New York Jets, Robinson was a pleasant surprise.

"Ahkello Witherspoon entered the draft with questions about his commitment to football and his contact courage. He answered both sets of questions convincingly once he got playing time," wrote our own Aaron Erickson in a recent roster analysis. "With his length, precise hand placement, and remarkably quick feet (which he credits to playing soccer), Witherspoon excels in man coverage. His intelligence and instincts allow him to thrive in zone coverage. He also employed a previously unseen sense of urgency in rallying to contact in run support and in limiting yards after the catch.

"In Witherspoon, the 49ers have a promising starting corner with ample room to improve."

The 49ers made Witherspoon a third-round draft pick out of Colorado last year. In his 12 game appearances and nine starts, he registered 32 combined tackles, seven passes defensed, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. Witherspoon's NFL future looks bright, and on Sunday, the cornerback posted a touching video on Instagram of his father's reaction after Ahkello bought him a car.

"Got the big fella a new whip for his birthday," wrote Witherspoon. "Not another person on this earth that's more deserving. Happy Birthday Sir!!!!"


Witherspoon, who prepares to enter his second NFL season, gained a mentor on defense with the addition of veteran All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.

"I look forward to the challenge," Sherman said regarding the opportunity to impart his knowledge to the younger players in the defensive backs room. "I've always been a guy to take young guys under my wing and give them any advice that they've wanted or they were seeking. Whether it's staying after practice and spending countless hours of just technique or up in the film room when nobody is watching, 'This is what I see. This is how I see it. This is situational football. These are fundamental things for me that I look for in a formation in a game, in a player, in a split.'

"I look forward to helping this group grow. I think that one of my best attributes is leadership and helping guys get the best out of themselves. And I think that at the end of the day, that's all I want to do. I want to help them become better men and better players."

H/T to Kirk Larrabee of 247 Sports for the find.