SANTA CLARA – Richard Sherman, the 49ers’ Pro Bowl cornerback who fuels himself with emotion, believes he maintains a high standard of performance because he approaches every week the same.
“You got to prepare the same,” Sherman said Thursday, as the 49ers continued preparations to face the Seattle Seahawks on "Sunday Night Football" for the NFC West championship.
“I play the same every week. It’s not like I play with less emotion last week and the week before that, and I’m just going to hype up for this week. It doesn’t make any difference. I’m trying to win every week. I want to win the same (this week) as I did last week, as I did the week before that, the week before that.”
Sherman experienced the 49ers-Seahawks matchups from the other side for his first seven NFL seasons. He took particular delight in defeating the 49ers because of his acrimonious relationship with Jim Harbaugh, his coach at Stanford.
After the Seahawks’ 29-3 victory over the 49ers in September 2013, Sherman ran across the field to pat Harbaugh's butt to rub it into his former coach.
Six years later, Sherman, now 31, said he can look back and not regret a thing.
“I meant it to Harbaugh,” Sherman said. “We’ve had our history. I don’t regret a second of that. I’d do it again, twice, maybe more.
“If he were their coach and we were in the same position, it would maybe be worse right now. There’s bad blood there. There’s history there. . . . It was very personal. It was less 49ers and Seahawks. It was very personal.”
Upon being asked by @Eric_Branch how he looks back on some of the stuff he did as part of the #49ers-#Seahawks rivalry when he played for Seattle, Richard Sherman made it clear it was all about the feelings he had for his old college coach, Jim Harbaugh. pic.twitter.com/LgqYLny7sy— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) December 26, 2019
Sherman said there is no comparison to his feelings toward the Seahawks organization for releasing him in the 2018 offseason while he was rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn Achilles.
“Much, much different circumstances,” Sherman said comparing the feelings he has for the Seahawks to his past with Harbaugh. “Our history goes way more personal than football.”
As told to NBC Sports Bay Area in October, Sherman said his relationship with Harbaugh was irreversibly damaged when Harbaugh expressed anger toward Sherman after he underwent season-ending knee surgery early in the 2008 season. Harbaugh told Sherman he quit on the Stanford team, Sherman recalled.
Sherman said Harbaugh told him he would never play offense for Stanford again, despite being the team’s leading wide receiver as a freshman and sophomore. Sherman moved to defense and began the following offseason at the bottom of the Stanford depth chart.
Because he knew every facet of the team’s offense, Sherman dominated during offseason practices and quickly rose up the depth chart and started his final two college seasons at cornerback. Following his senior year, Sherman also felt Harbaugh did not help his draft status with NFL teams. The Seahawks and Harbaugh’s bitter adversary, Pete Carroll, selected Sherman in the fifth round of the 2011 draft.
Sherman also had a personal grudge against former 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, with whom he clashed during Larry Fitzgerald's charity softball game in the offseason. Sherman made his pass break-up that led to the clinching Malcolm Smith interception in Seattle's victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship game in January 2014. Afterward, he flashed a choke sign, and had his memorable post-game interview with Erin Andrews.
Sherman said Sunday's game will be all about business and not personal feelings. When it was suggested this is not a normal week, Sherman disagreed.
"It is for me," he said. "It's ball."