Sherman: I don’t hate the 49ers — but I don’t like ’em, either
Just days away from a third matchup against the "hated" 49ers, with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line no less, is Richard Sherman going soft on us?
Along with being perhaps the NFL’s best cover man, the Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback is arguably the league’s top trash-talker. So when he was offered up a softball question about hating the 49ers on Wednesday, you had to figure he’d knock it out of the park.
"I don’t hate anybody. But passion? Definitely. There will be some dislike. There will be some strong dislike," Sherman reportedly told the gathered media.
Perhaps realizing how that sounded, Sherman clarified with some stronger words:
"There’s no love lost and there’s no love found. I don’t know if there’s going to be handshakes after this one. It’s going to be intense and it’s going to be physical."
While the AFC Championship Game will feature the NFL’s premier QB rivalry in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, most observers view Seattle-San Francisco as the fiercest, most hate-filled rivalry in the NFL right now.
The two will hook up in Seattle at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday. The winner will face the winner of Sunday’s Pats-Broncos clash in Denver (3 p.m. ET on CBS) in Super Bowl XLVIII (6:30 p.m. ET, Feb. 2 on FOX).
Some of Wednesday’s questioning came when the topic shifted to 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin. Boldin did quite a bit of chirping with Panthers defensive backs in last Sunday’s divisional-round game in Carolina — and then put up 136 yards on eight catches in the 23-10 win.
Sherman vowed the Seahawks, who beat New Orleans 23-15 in the divisional round, would not be suckered into penalties.
"If (Boldin) wants to gab, then we’ll deal with it," Sherman said. "You don’t have to head-butt him and do all of this crazy stuff to react to him. You slow him down. You stop him. If you don’t want him in your face, don’t let him catch the ball."
The Seahawks are certainly more than just talk, sporting the league’s top defense and leading the league this season in passing yards allowed (172 per game), interceptions (28) and opposing QB rating (63.4). Sherman led the NFL with eight interceptions.
Want an example of the poetic nature of Sherman’s trash talk?
Kevin Gilbride recently retired, having spent this past season as the Giants’ offensive coordinator. In Week 15, New York was shut out at home by Seattle, 23-0. Giants QB Eli Manning threw five interceptions in the game, Sherman grabbing two of them. Gilbride last week told the Wall Street Journal that Seattle has "perfected the art" of pass interference.
"I think he’s the guy that’s a little bit bitter. His team didn’t score any points that game, so I’d try to find a way to explain that, too."
Seattle and San Francisco split their regular-season meetings this season, the Seahawks thumping the 49ers 29-3 in Seattle in Week 2, then losing at San Francisco 19-17 in Week 14.
The 49ers were fifth in the NFL in total defense this season, and held opposing QBs to the fourth-lowest rating in the league at 76.4.