Richard Sherman ready to make exhibition debut for 49ers

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              FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2018, file photo, Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) and San Francisco 49ers defensive back Richard Sherman (25) run extra drills after a joint NFL football practice in Houston.  Sherman said Wednesday, Aug. 22, that he plans to play San Francisco's exhibition game at Indianapolis on Saturday in his first action for the 49ers at cornerback after spending his first seven seasons playing for NFC West rival Seattle. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, File)
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Richard Sherman has been around the NFL long enough that playing in exhibition games might not seem to be of critical importance.

But after going more than nine months without game action following a season-ending Achilles tendon injury and joining a new team with the San Francisco 49ers, Sherman is eager to get back on the field.

He said Wednesday he plans to play in San Francisco’s exhibition game at Indianapolis on Saturday in his first action for the 49ers at cornerback after spending his first seven seasons playing for NFC West rival Seattle.

“It’s important just for a defensive continuity standpoint, just knowing where people are going to be on game day,” he said. “You don’t want the first time you deal with communicating with somebody else be with live bullets out there. You want to be out there and get the communication down if someone isn’t listening or looking and get those tweaks out of the way.”

Sherman had hoped to play earlier this preseason as he worked his way back from the Achilles tendon injury, but he strained his hamstring early in training camp.

Sherman felt ready to play last week, but coach Kyle Shanahan held him out to be cautious. Sherman took time after joint practices last week in Houston to get extra work against Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins and has no worries about his health now.

“I’m not really concerned with how that will respond,” he said. “I’m more concerned about my game shape and making sure I can still go every single play because I haven’t played (since November).”

Sherman has faced questions about what kind of player he can be at age 30 coming off a significant injury that led to his release by the Seahawks. Those only grew louder during the opening week of training camp when video came out of Sherman getting badly beaten deep by sprinter Marquise Goodwin. Coach Kyle Shanahan used that video as a teaching tool, praising Sherman to the rest of the team for his aggressiveness and willingness to test out his injured leg against one of the faster receivers in the league during practice.

Sherman said wasn’t bothered by outside criticism and appreciated Shanahan’s support, comparing practice to writing a “rough draft” and saying his product will be polished by the time games start next month.

“You’re allowed to make mistakes in practice,” he said. “You’re allowed to get beat and stumble, because then you figure out what works and what doesn’t work. If you find something that works you keep using it and put it into your bag for game day.”

Sherman also criticized the NFL’s new rule that prohibits players from lowering the helmet to make contact anywhere on an opponent. The 49ers have been called for three personal fouls through two preseason games for violating the rule.

“It’s an idiotic rule so there’s no need to go down that road,” Sherman said when asked if he understood the rule. “There’s no way you can tackle and play football. I could tackle like that if I was standing still, got on my knees, no one was moving and I was tackling bags or something. But to ask you to do that at full speed?”

NOTES: The 49ers signed DT Chris Jones to a one-year deal. Jones started the final six games of 2016 for San Francisco before spending last year on IR. … Jones takes the place on the roster of DL Cedric Thornton, who announced his retirement at age 30.