Richard Sherman, others defend Tim Ryan over Lamar Jackson comments: 'We know his character'

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The San Francisco 49ers suspended radio color commentator Tim Ryan on Wednesday for comments he made about Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson — and many are speaking up in Ryan's defense.

Ryan said on a Monday KNBR appearance that Jackson's "dark skin color" coupled with "a dark football and a dark uniform" made it hard for the 49ers defense to read play fakes on zone-read running plays and play-action passing plays.

The comments drew outrage from NFL players including Ravens running back Mark Ingram, Rams running back Todd Gurley and members of the media, but 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said that while Ryan could have used better phrasing, he was not personally offended by the remarks.

"I know Tim personally, I listened to the dialogue and saw it written, and honestly I wasn't as outraged as everybody else," Sherman said. "I understand how it could 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 we were having trouble seeing it on film."

Sherman also said that other 49ers players were not offended.

"I don't think anybody in this locker room has taken it offensively," he said. "He's apologized and we know his character. Hopefully this can go away."

Defensive end Dee Ford concurred.

"He walked up to me earlier and before he said anything, I said, 'I got your back,'" Ford said. "I knew what he was trying to say. This era we live in – it is what it is."

Ryan also had other defenders.

Former 49ers defensive tackle Ian Williams tweeted, "I’ve known Tim Ryan for a few years and have come to respect him. I don’t think his comment was malicious. However, I know Tim has enough football IQ to not have to mention skin color. Anytime you mention skin color, especially in this manner, there will be an uproar."

Ryan's radio partner Greg Papa also defended Ryan's character.

“All I will say is that the comments were offensive because they offended people,” Papa told KNBR Wednesday. “And they offended a great many people. In what we do for a living, word choice is critically important, and his word choice was not on point. He’s acknowledged that and he’s going to pay a stiff penalty for it.”

Papa also said Ryan is "a quality, quality person,” and "the organization knows that."

Click through the slideshow above to see reactions to Ryan's suspension.

Eric Ting is an SFGATE digital reporter. Email: | Twitter:@_ericting