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Richard Sherman talks retirement timetable, moving to safety

Richard Sherman is playing well enough at cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers this season to think he has at least another year or two of holding down a spot at that position, but at his age (30), he’s already put a good amount of thought into when his days at cornerback might be up, and when he might walk away from the NFL altogether.

Sherman has spoken in the past about when he wants to call it a career, saying most recently in an August interview with KPIX-5 in San Francisco that he planned on playing around five more seasons. He was asked about the subject again during his press conference on Thursday, specifically if he wanted to be a defensive back who played late into his 30s, like Charles Woodson, who retired after the 2015 season at age 39, or Terence Newman, who retired earlier this year a few days shy of turning 40. Sherman once again gave roughly a five-year estimate as his timetable for retirement, then said he will likely move from cornerback to safety sometime before then.

“I think 35 is probably my cut off,” Sherman said. “I don’t think I’d want to play – they’d have a hard time getting me out the bed at 35 to go play. I think I’ve got about four, five more in me. At some point everybody makes the transition to safety if you’re smart enough to play that game, and I’ll probably do that in a couple years or whenever the team needs.”

Sherman may not be interested in playing to the same age as Woodson, but he says he’s had conversations with him about a move to safety, which Woodson made with success late in his career. Woodson played both free safety and strong safety in his final NFL seasons, and it sounds like Sherman plans on following that pattern once the final years of his playing career draw closer. 

“It’s definitely something I’ve looked at and something I’ve talked to him about because a lot of times in this game, playing corner you can see the whole field but you really only see like half the field,” Sherman said. “At free safety, you get to see the whole field. You get to make an impact. You always see where the ball goes. At corner, I’ve had games where I haven’t gotten a look or thrown at, and at safety you can see exactly where the ball goes, you can make an impact, you can find a way to get in on every tackle because you’re in the center of everything, kind of like a Mike (linebacker). But it’s something I’m definitely going to consider later in my career and hopefully I’ll be just as good there.”

Time will tell whether he makes that switch as a member of the 49ers, with whom he’s signed through 2020, or with some other team. But for now, there’s no question the 49ers need him at corner more than safety, and he’s played that position well enough to think he’ll remain there in the foreseeable future. 

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