49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said his return to play the Seahawks this weekend was just another road game. “It will be good to get back there and see some old guys, some old faces. But it’s football,” he said.
However, the former vocal leader of the “Legion of Boom” clearly is still harboring resentment from the way his former team handled his departure during the recent offseason.
“You just expect after you’ve done so much for a franchise that they wouldn’t cut you while you’re hurt,” Sherman said Thursday. “It’s kind of more of a respect thing than anything but they did so you have got to kind of roll with the business.”
Seattle released Sherman last March while he was rehabbing a torn right Achilles, the first and only injury that caused him to miss games since entering the league in 2011. The move saved about $11 million against the salary cap while the the Seahawks were going through a youth movement on defense by breaking up the best collection of defensive players from the last decade.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
“They have rarely ever cut anybody while they were hurt. So we hadn’t obviously seen that very often,” Sherman said.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had nothing but nice things to say about Sherman during his conference call with Bay Area reporters this week.
“We had a great time together,” he said. “We went through so much and so much growth, and challenges and victories, and frustrations and stuff. We went through a ton of stuff together. I really cherish the time that Sherm was here. And I really enjoyed working with him. He’s such a bright person and such a great competitor, extraordinary performer.”
Sunday’s game in Seattle will be the first time Sherman has played at CenturyLink Field since signing with the 49ers. He did so two days after his release, and a day after meeting with San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan for an extended dinner in Los Gatos, Calif.
Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin this week expressed a similar sentiment in a video with Gregg Bell of The News Tribune.
“I thought it was really s----- to be honest with you, how it ended,” Baldwin said. “I would really have liked for him to stay here and had an opportunity to finish his career with this organization, but it’s part of the business. It doesn’t work that way.”
Sherman also made clear he isn’t exactly fond of Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, or the way the team reportedly gave the signal caller preferential treatment, according to Sports Illustrated, despite the defense being the key reason the club was regularly contending for Super Bowls.
Sherman has admitted to having text message conversations with other quarterbacks, such as Aaron Rodgers, and in Week 2 expressed his respect for Matthew Stafford of the Lions.
But Wilson isn’t among the quarterbacks Sherman speaks with, and Sherman declined to elaborate on the SI story illustrating the downfall of the Seahawks’ run with defensive stars such as defensive lineman Michael Bennett, safety Kam Chancellor and Sherman.
“I don’t really have a relationship with Russell,” he said. “We were teammates. We played through a very special time for the franchise.”
Wilson is having one of the best seasons of his career while the Seahawks (6-5) remain in the hunt for a Wild Card berth in the postseason. His 112.0 passer rating is the best of his career and his yards per attempt (8.2) is the second best clip of his seven seasons.
“I’ve also seen him throw five picks in the game so you see what he’s capable of on both sides of it,” said Sherman, referencing a game against the Packers in December 2016. “You understand that he can be defended so you go out there and give it your best shot.”
While Sherman wasn’t feeling very nostalgic about his former team on Thursday, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was.
Saleh was a quality control coach on coach Pete Carroll’s staff from 2011 to 2013. The last defensive snap he saw with the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field was Sherman’s tipped interception to linebacker Malcolm Smith (also a current 49er) to finish the NFC title game in January 2014.
Saleh was in the coaching booth with then-coordinator Dan Quinn, who’s currently the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
“I blacked out for a little bit,” Saleh said. “I think coach Quinn punched me in the face by accident. So, there were a lot of things going on in the booth. But no, it was a pretty cool moment.”
Sherman, 30, is having a good season with the 49ers, although not quite up to the standard he set in Seattle. He ranks third among all corners in allowing a reception every 21.6 coverage snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, yet his 68.8 overall grade is the lowest of his career.
Carroll said he’s impressed with the way Sherman has bounced back from his injury.
“In terms of the targets and wins and all that, he’s having a very successful season,” said Carroll. “Every year you adapt. And Richard is a brilliant football player. And he has always been a guy that we would work together with the little things that we would grow with year to year, to try to stay ahead of it. And he’s continued to do that. And I think he’s been very successful you this season.”