San Francisco 49ers player Richard Sherman on Thursday came to suspended 49ers team radio analyst Tim Ryan’s defense after Ryan was punished for making a comment about Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s “dark skin” as it relates to the game.
Ryan was explaining during a radio interview earlier this week how Jackson’s skin color makes it easier for him to hide the ball during fake handoffs:
“He’s really good at that fake, Lamar Jackson, but when you consider his dark skin with a dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see that thing,” Ryan said, according to NBC Sports. “I mean you literally could not see when he was in and out of the mesh point and if you’re a half step slow on him in terms of your vision forget about it, he’s out of the gate.”
Sherman on Thursday told reporters that he didn’t think Ryan’s comments were racist and that Ryan even “technically” made “a valid point” but could have chosen his words better:
“I know Tim personally and I listened to the dialogue and saw it written, and honestly I wasn’t as outraged as everybody else,” said the cornerback. “I understand how it can be taken under a certain context and be offensive to some, but if you’re saying, hey, this is a brown ball, they’re wearing dark colors, and he has a brown arm, honestly, sometimes we were having trouble seeing it on film. He’s making a play fake and sometimes he’s swinging his arm real fast and you’re like, ‘Does he have the ball?’ And you look up and [Mark] Ingram is running it. So it was technically a valid point, but you can always phrase things better.”
“It 100 percent is an issue,” said Sherman, when asked about Ryan's point. “That’s why it wasn’t that offensive, because what he was saying was a great point. … He could have used better words, but it was made bigger than it really was.”
He said that it’s unfortunate the team suspended Ryan but “I don’t think anybody in this locker room is taking it offensively."
Fellow 49ers teammate Dee Ford also came to Ryan’s defense:
“I told him, ‘I got your back,’” Ford said referring to a conversation he had with Ryan. “The words kind of got taken out of context. Of course, I think he knows now he could have used better judgment with his words, but we’ve got his back. I knew what he was trying to say. This era we live in, it’s just what it is.”
“But I know him personally … and there’s not one type of bone, you know what type of bone I’m talking about, in his body,” said Ford.
Ryan apologized for his comment, saying in a statement, “I regret my choice of words in trying to describe the conditions of the game. Lamar Jackson is an MVP-caliber player and I respect him greatly. I want to sincerely apologize to him and anyone else I offended.”
He will not be broadcasting Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.
According to East Bay Times, “The 49ers announced Thursday that Dennis Brown will replace Ryan as the team’s radio analyst for Sunday’s game. Brown, 52, played seven seasons for the 49ers as a defensive lineman from 1990 to ’96, and was a starter on the team’s Super Bowl-winning team after the 1994 season. He has served as an analyst on KNBR’s pre- and post-game 49ers coverage the past two seasons.”
Ryan’s return has not been announced.