SANTA CLARA — Richard Sherman will decide when Richard Sherman will play.
The 49ers’ veteran cornerback confirmed Thursday his strained left calf will not fully heal this season, and he might miss more games. He missed last Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams, who have the second-ranked offense. Now, he seems ready to return next Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, who have the last-ranked offense.
“I’m pretty sure I’m playing this week,” Sherman said during his weekly Thursday press conference in the 49ers auditorium. “Next Thursday (night against the Oakland Raiders), that will be a question. I’m going to battle and try to hit both (games), but the body can only do what the body can do.”
The 49ers and Raiders will play at Levi’s Stadium next Thursday night — just four days after the 49ers’ game against the Cardinals. Sherman may not feel healthy enough to play after such a short turnaround. The last time he played a Thursday night game, he tore his right Achilles tendon. That was last season.
Sherman’s left calf injury is not related his Achilles tear. He injured his calf Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs, late during the first half, just after the two-minute warning.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes handed the ball to Spencer Ware. Sherman took one step and started limping. He stayed on the field for one more play, but missed the rest of the game, plus the next game against the Los Angeles Chargers, who beat the 49ers 29-27.
Sherman played the next two games — first against the Arizona Cardinals, then against the Green Bay Packers. He seemed perfectly healthy. But he had an incident during practice following the loss to the Packers.
“It just went bad,” Sherman explained, referring to his calf. “It got weak. I didn’t have the strength, so I couldn’t run. It didn’t allow me to play.”
Now, the calf seems strong enough.
“It’s decent,” Sherman said. “It has its good days, bad days. But it’s feeling alright right now. It’s just going to be one of those things that you try to manage the best you can. We’re trying to find a schedule to get me through the week and get to Sunday. We’ll see how it works out.”
On Sunday, Sherman will work out three hours before kickoff and decide if he will play. He will make a game-time decision before each of the 49ers’ remaining games.
“I probably will get out there and run early, but I’m not going to break a sweat or anything,” Sherman said. “I will just run, see how it feels, and if it feels good, I’ll play.”
Sherman will earn a $1 million bonus if he plays 90 percent of the 49ers’ defensive snaps this season. It seems unlikely he will reach that percentage, because he already has missed two and a half games.
But if he makes the Pro Bowl, his $8 million base salary for 2019 will become fully guaranteed. He has financial incentive to be cautious with his calf and not jeopardize his chances to make the Pro Bowl even if he misses games. Sherman fully understands the terms of his contract — he negotiated it himself. He serves as his own agent.