Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Sherman believes Ahkello Witherspoon will ‘respond well’ after rough outing

Sep 20, 2018 at 1:47 PM--

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon had a rough outing this past Sunday. He allowed eight catches on 12 targets for 99 yards and two touchdowns against the Detroit Lions, according to Pro Football Focus.

Witherspoon spent the week leading to the game nursing an ankle injury. He was pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of defensive back Jimmie Ward.

On Monday, head coach Kyle Shanahan would not commit to Witherspoon starting against the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs offense.

"We'll see how this week goes," Shanahan said. "I mean, he was in and out towards the end of the game. I don't know exactly how he's feeling yet."

On Thursday, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh also wouldn't make any guarantees regarding Witherspoon's status for Sunday.

"We'll see as the week goes on," Saleh said. "It depends on how healthy (he is) and all that stuff so there's a lot of work to go through for the rest of this week to see where he's at before I could even guess on [whether or not he starts]."

Just because Witherspoon hasn't been inked in as a starter yet for Sunday, that doesn't mean Saleh has lost faith in the young cornerback.

"Ahkello has been rock solid for the most part," Saleh said. "It just wasn't his best game. He's not a guy I worry about — I don't think any of us worry about — out on the edge, to be honest with you. He's got to get back to his fundamentals and continue to work and understand exactly the way teams are attacking him."

How has Witherspoon responded during practice this week after Sunday's outing?

"Ahkello came out strong mentally like he always does," Saleh said. "I'm excited to see him work throughout the rest of the week, for sure."

Saleh reminded reporters that the defense is still a young group. The players will get tested by opposing offenses and facing adversity is inevitable. Saleh said that cornerbacks have to move past bad games or even bad plays. They are going to happen. Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman could not agree more.

"Next play, next game," Sherman tells young players who struggle. "That's the mentality you've always got to have as a corner. Short-term memory. That's the only way you can play and have success. There's never been a corner in the league who's never got a ball caught on them. There's never been a corner who hasn't had a bad play or a bad day.

"It's about the way you respond to adversity that determines whether you're a great player, a good player, an average player, or a bad player. Bad players get adversity, and they fold up."

Sherman believes it is important for Witherspoon to get back out on the football field and put last weekend's game behind him.

"I'd love to see him get back out there and get a chance to redeem himself, in a way, and just get back on that horse," Sherman said. "He's kind of beat up and banged up as it is right now, so I guess we'll see how it goes throughout the week."

Assuming Witherspoon is healthy enough to start, Sherman has no doubts that he will bounce back.

"I think that he's going to respond well, given the opportunity," Sherman added.

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