San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, arguably the team's biggest free agent acquisition this offseason, finally hit the practice field with his new teammates. Of course, the 49ers are being cautious with his return from a ruptured Achilles. They are limiting him to individual drills during the mandatory minicamp, which kicked off on Tuesday.

Sherman believes he is on pace for a full return to the practice field when the 49ers kick off training camp in late July. Before practice on Tuesday, the veteran cornerback was asked if taking part in individual drills was a significant step in his recovery.

"It's kind of on par with what we expected," Sherman responded. "My body is feeling good, and if I wasn't an eight-year vet, I'd probably be out there getting more reps in, but they don't seem to think I need the reps, and I don't think I need the reps, so it works out."

Sherman, a former Seahawk, doesn't feel like a ton of practice reps are necessary because he has a lot of experience in Robert Saleh's defense, which is based on the one run in Seattle. When he does return, the savvy veteran should be able to slip right into his role across from second-year starter Ahkello Witherspoon.

Sherman is excited to finally get on the practice field after spending the offseason working as an unofficial assistant coach. He was always seen offering advice to the younger defensive backs and helping to improve their techniques during practices.


"It's exciting," Sherman said. "Any time you get back on the field, you get to compete. Getting back to training camp is going to be a lot of fun. I'm sure I'll be excited for like the first three practices, and then I'll get back into the rhythm of understanding that it's one practice at a time.

"But it's been fun. Obviously, I'm excited to get back. My body is feeling like it has before, so I'm happy about that."

With cornerback Jimmie Ward working his way back from a minor ankle injury, Tyvis Powell and Tarvarius Moore received practice reps on Tuesday in place of Sherman. Powell even managed to haul in an interception off quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Sherman reiterated that his Achilles was not healthy even before he tore it during a November game against the Arizona Cardinals last year. Following the surgery on his Achilles, Sherman had another surgery to clean out bone spurs in his left foot – an injury which had hampered him for years.

"It was bothering me from probably the middle of OTAs (last year), early on in the offseason," Sherman said. "Then it kind of got worse in training camp. We just kind of backed off. I practiced here and there and we just kind of babied it as long as we could until we knew you can't baby it in a game. You can only baby it so much."

With both injuries behind him, Sherman feels better than he has in years and has high expectations entering an NFL season completely healthy – assuming the recovery from the Achilles injury goes as expected.

"I feel lightyears better than I have over the past few years," he said. "This is the first offseason I've actually gotten to heal up and let all the ailments go away and come out completely healthy."

The 49ers final minicamp practice is scheduled for Wednesday with a family day planned for Thursday. After that, the team will break for nearly six weeks before training camp.