After the Seattle Seahawks stuffed the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2, Richard Sherman was, as Mac Dre might have put it, “feelin’ himself.” He ran over to Jim Harbaugh and swatted him on the rear. During an interview with Michele Tafoya, he had some words for the “ignorant idiots” who thought the Seahawks might lose that game: “Please don’t doubt us again, because every time you doubt us you look stupid.”
Sherman got noticed nationally as a cover-corner (and trash-talker) supreme after Seattle beat the New England Patriots last season. Sherman tweeted (and deleted) a photo of himself yelling at a forlorn Tom Brady with the caption “U MAD BRO?” Now there’s a whole line of “YOU MAD BRO” clothing in the “Official Richard Sherman Store.” Perhaps he deleted the tweet after reconsidering the usage of “U” in lieu of “YOU.”
A week after beating the Pats, Sherman’s Seahawks came to San Francisco and lost 13-6. Sherman’s postgame comments were quite humble. “They played a better game than us today and got the win,” he said.
Sherman was incredible when the 49ers went to Seattle and lost 42-13 in Week 16 of last season (scoring a 5.0 according to Pro Football Focus). His outstanding play continued the next time the two teams met at CenturyLink, nine months later. A week after Anquan Boldin went off for 207 yards in his first game with the 49ers, Sherman and the Seahawks held him to one catch for seven yards. It appeared on several downs that Sherman got away with an extraordinary amount of clutching and grabbing. When I asked Harbaugh about Sherman’s style of play the day after the 49ers’ 29-3 loss, he said, “He did a very good job. The coverage was tight. He’s an excellent player.”
Harbaugh didn’t campaign for the officials to take a closer look at the Seahawks corners’ style of play, like he did after the 49ers’ home win over the Seahawks last October. However, Sherman was called for defensive holding twice yesterday — once on 3rd-and-11 in 49ers territory to extend a drive that would lead to the 49ers’ third field goal, and again on a 27-yard completion to Boldin (who had six catches for 93 yards in the game).
After the 49ers won 19-17, Sherman faced the media and displayed the attitude and grace of a teething infant (transcript courtesy of 49ers public relations).
This game came down to the final play like many people projected it to be, how about your thoughts?
“We didn’t project it to be this way. We expected to blow them out but they got the benefit of a few calls tonight throughout the game and that helps you especially on third down, we will see them again and it will be a different result.”
You thought it will be a blowout?
“Yes, that is what we expected in this game.”
When it is all said and done what do you make out of it, how it went down the way it did?
“Like I said, they got a few questionable calls on third down. We had a few missed opportunities. That is about it.”
[WR] Michael Crabtree’s addition?
“It didn’t make a difference. It didn’t make a difference at all.”
What was the difference, your mistakes?
“Yes. The penalties, that is what made the difference today.”
The opportunistic plays that they made that didn’t surprise you at all?
“I am sure those came on penalties. There were a lot of them so we will have to go back to the tape and see what it was.”
I caught this exchange on the radio on the ride home, and Sherman’s tone was what we’ve come to expect from the Seahawks’ best corner over the last few years: dismissive, petulant and with more than a hint of poorly-masked insecurity. Instead of admitting he played poorly (Sherman registered a disappointing -1.9 yesterday according to PFF), he mentioned “penalties” or “calls” on four occasions during the course of a six-question interview.
Sherman is very smart, and his results speak volumes. He has made his mark as one of the best defensive players in the NFL over the last two years. However, his preparation and technique make up for speed that is merely average, or perhaps even below for a corner. If the officials are calling the game tight, he suffers. And once he loses a step, his size and intangibles won’t be enough to allow him to stick around into his 30s unless he switches to safety. He’s Nnamdi Asomugha, only 1,000 times louder. And every time his words aren’t backed up by his team’s results and/or his own individual play, he loses an opportunity to boost his image and sell more “YOU MAD BRO?” snapbacks.