Beck­ham, Sher­man more in­ter­ested in wins

The Mercury News - - Sports - By Cam In­man cin­man@ba­yare­anews­group.com

SANTA CLARA >> Richard Sher­man and Odell Beck­ham Jr. opened the sea­son as strong con­tenders for Come­back Player of the Year.

They have in­deed re­turned at an elite level from lower-leg in­juries. But their ef­forts have done lit­tle to res­cue the 49ers (2-7) and New York Gi­ants (1-7) en­ter­ing Mon­day night’s game.

“I never re­ally imag­ined be­ing in a come­back-player-of-the-year race, but if I get a chance to win it, I’ll take it,” Beck­ham told Gi­ants-based me­dia Fri­day.

Beck­ham noted that’s not his pri­or­ity, how­ever, and Sher­man echoed

that Fri­day, not­ing he and Beck­ham only briefly dis­cussed their come­backs at the off­sea­son’s ESPY Awards. More likely to win for their come­backs this sea­son: Hous­ton’s J.J. Watt or De­shaun Wat­son, Wash­ing­ton’s Adrian Peter­son, Philadel­phia’s Car­son Wentz or In­di­anapo­lis’ An­drew Luck.

“In my mind, I’m not com­pet­ing against them. I like their suc­cess,” Beck­ham said. “I like that Sherm came back and is play­ing at a high level. I’m ex­cited to go against him.”

Beck­ham (61 catches, 785 yards) is on pace to set fran­chise re­ceiv­ing records, al­though he has only two touch­down catches.

Sher­man is an­tic­i­pat­ing a “fun” matchup with Beck­ham, not­ing: “I know he’ll get tar­geted. I know he’ll get the ball. He likes his spots. Eli will throw it up to him.”

But will Eli Man­ning throw to­ward Sher­man, some­thing few quar­ter­backs have dared do­ing this sea­son while in­stead pick­ing on the 49ers’ other cor­ner­backs, which Mon­day night fig­ure to be Ahkello With­er­spoon and K’Waun Wil­liams?

“My legs have been feel­ing bet­ter. Yes­ter­day, they felt as good as they’ve ever felt,” said Sher­man, who took a

“re­ally mean­ing­ful” step in his come­back tour by play­ing in last week’s 34-3 rout of the Raiders only four days after a tax­ing ef­fort in Ari­zona.

FIRE RE­LIEF >> A stream of 49ers play­ers rushed Fri­day to both re­quest and pro­vide re­lief for the Camp Fire vic­tims in Par­adise, the home­town of their as­sis­tant strength coach Shane Wallen.

“He took my ex­tra bed and drove it up to his dad last night, be­cause his dad’s house burned down,” tight end Ge­orge Kit­tle said. “He left at the drop of a hat, so you can tell how much his fam­ily and his town mean to him.”

“This place was home for me grow­ing up, and un­til yes­ter­day, it’s where my dad called home for the last 20 years. These peo­ple need your help,” Wallen tweeted Fri­day, re­quest­ing do­na­tions be sent to a GoFundMe ac­count.

Air qual­ity from the fire led the 49ers to bump Fri­day’s prac­tice up from 1:50 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. Mon­day night’s game against the New York Gi­ants re­mains sched­uled for 5:15 p.m. at Levi’s Sta­dium, al­though the league will keep tabs on air con­di­tions.

“We are mon­i­tor­ing con­di­tions in Cal­i­for­nia and are in close com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the clubs and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties,” an NFL spokesman said.

Kit­tle, quar­ter­back Nick Mul­lens, left tackle Joe Sta­ley, right tackle Mike McGlinchey, line­backer Brock Coyle and de­fen­sive tackle Solomon Thomas are among those who hit Twit­ter in the fire-re­lief ef­forts. Kit­tle and fel­low tight ends Gar­rett Celek and Cole Wick are among the first who have do­nated to Wallen’s re­lief ef­forts, as has punter Bradley Pin­ion.

Wallen joined the 49ers’ strength and con­di­tion­ing staff this year.

OTHER SHER­MAN THOUGHTS >> Sher­man’s weekly me­dia ses­sions usu­ally are ripe with in­sights, and here are a cou­ple more from Fri­day:

On the Thou­sand Oaks mass shoot­ing: “Hon­estly, it’s odd our so­ci­ety con­tin­ues to see that, con­tin­ues to see mass mur­ders hap­pen. Just this year, what is it, 300, so

far? There are sev­eral com­mon de­nom­i­na­tors with these mass mur­ders.

“You’d pray for the vic­tims’ sake, for ev­ery­body’s sake. Peo­ple are wor­ried about send­ing their kids to school, be­cause schools are get­ting shot up. You can’t even go to a bar. Churches. Gro­cery stores. You’d hope at one point or an­other peo­ple would get it and be, ‘We need to make a change.’ But I guess the almighty dol­lar is more im­por­tant than hu­man life.”

On pre­fer­ring 1 p.m. starts in­stead of prime time: “I 100-per­cent sub­scribe to ev­ery game is the same. I wish we didn’t ever have prime-time games. Prime­time games are a waste of time. You have to sit around all day. I want to play at 1 o’clock, wake up, eat my break­fast, go play, get on with your day.” SCOUT­ING RE­PORT >> De­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Robert Saleh raved about the Gi­ants’ skill play­ers, in­clud­ing Beck­ham, Man­ning and rookie Saquon Barkley, the lat­ter of whom he said: “God, he is dynamic. For his size, it’s very de­cep­tive be­cause it doesn’t look like he is mov­ing, but the son of a gun is mov­ing. He’s got tremen­dous balance. He’s got great feet.”

As for the Gi­ants’ non-skill­po­si­tion play­ers (see: line­men), Saleh didn’t bask in the pos­si­bil­ity of in­creas­ing Man­ning’s 31 sacks.

“You know what, there’s a lot of things that can go into play there,” Saleh said. “I still think Eli has great arm strength. I still think he can throw the ball with great ac­cu­racy.”

HEALTH CEN­TER >> Kit­tle (chest con­tu­sion) again was lim­ited and wore a no-con­tact jer­sey. Line­backer Reuben Foster (ham­string) re­mained on a side field with train­ers and fig­ures to miss his sec­ond straight game, as is the case with safety Jaquiski Tartt (shoul­der). Wide re­ceiver Pierre Gar­con (knee) did not prac­tice.

MIL­I­TARY HONORS >> Gen­eral man­ager John Lynch, for the sec­ond straight year, is the 49ers’ nom­i­nee for the NFL’s “Salute To Ser­vice Award,” as pre­sented by the USAA. Fi­nal­ists are an­nounced in Jan­uary. Lynch’s staunch sup­port of the mil­i­tary in­cludes invit­ing troops to 49ers train­ing camp and vis­it­ing a lo­cal USO of­fice.

The 49ers Mu­seum at Levi’s Sta­dium is of­fer­ing free ad­mis­sion through Sun­day to ac­tive and re­tired mil­i­tary per­son­nel with ID.

Mon­day night’s cer­e­monies will in­clude an F-18 fly­over, U.S. Army Golden Knights sky­divers and a half­time show by Travis Air Force Base’s band. Park­ing lots open at 1:45 p.m., and all sta­dium gates are open at 3:15 p.m.

CHRIS­TIAN PE­TERSEN — GETTY IMAGES

49ers cor­ner­back Richard Sher­man has re­turned to his elite level of play after a lower leg in­jury.

BRAD PEN­NER — AP IMAGES FOR PANINI

Gi­ants wide re­ceiver Odell Beck­ham Jr. is on pace to set fran­chise re­ceiv­ing records.

NHAT V. MEYER — STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

49ers tight end Ge­orge Kit­tle was lim­ited in prac­tice Fri­day with a chest con­tu­sion and wore a no-con­tact jer­sey.

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