Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Sherman the most important player to get back for 49ers to make a playoff run, say Haberman and Middlekauff

Dec 17, 2019 at 10:07 AM--

Below is a list of the San Francisco 49ers' inactive players from Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

  • Dee Ford, DE (hamstring)
  • Richard Sherman, CB (hamstring)
  • K'Waun Williams, CB (concussion)
  • Jaquiski Tartt, S (ribs)
  • Jullian Taylor, DL (elbow)
  • C.J. Beathard, QB
  • Jordan Matthews, WR

Which players were missed the most on Sunday? Go ahead and rank them.

I'm assuming you don't have Beathard of Matthews at No. 1. That's not a knock on either player, but you probably went defense first. You probably went defense, first, second, third, and possibly fourth and fifth.

Even though three starting defensive backs (counting Williams) did not play, odds are, Sherman is likely to be at the top of your list. Without the veteran cornerback in the lineup, wide receiver Julio Jones exploded for 134 receiving yards with two touchdowns on 13 catches. It was the most receiving yards he's had since Week 8 when he racked up 152.

Of course, it's entirely possible Jones still had a big game even if Sherman had played because ... well ... he's Julio Jones, and he does Julio Jones-type things. It's also possible that having Sherman in the game might have slowed the six-time Pro Bowl receiver and two-time first-team All-Pro at least a little and helped the 49ers edge the Falcons for the win.

The most significant inactive during Sunday's game was a topic of discussion during this week's Haberman and Middlekauff Podcast, and both Guy Haberman and John Middlekauff agreed that Sherman was missed the most against the Falcons.

Middlekauff said Sherman explained to him how, in the defense run by the 49ers, the pass rush and secondary go hand in hand. The podcast host and contributor at The Athletic observed as Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan got rid of the football faster than usual, subduing the threat of the 49ers pass rush.

"Those were plays that early in the season, when you had Richard, Kwon (Alexander), Jaquiski (Tartt), with Ahkello (Witherspoon) and (Emmanuel) Moseley, that little group all playing well, didn't it feel like Niner DBs were always around wide receivers?" Middlekauff said. "Now, it's like the guys are just kind of open or Julio is making big-time plays over random guys.

"I like Emmanuel Moseley, cool story, undrafted free agent. I don't really like his chances against Julio Jones."

Middlekauff goes on to say the 49ers can't make a legitimate playoff run without some of their core players coming back, with Sherman being the most impactful. Sherman, by the way, told reporters last week that he felt like he could have played against the Falcons and expects to be ready to face the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday.

Behind Sherman, both Haberman and Middlekauff believe that Tartt is the next most valuable player to get back in the lineup, and indicated that K'Waun Williams might come third.

You can listen to the entire segment below.

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