The 49ers have enacted an incredible turnaround this season, going from 4-12 a year ago to the NFC Championship Game.
It's taken a contribution from everyone to get to this point, coaches and players alike. While the 49ers' talent obviously has been vital to their success, the leadership they've gotten from cornerback Richard Sherman has been the catalyst for the incredible run in Santa Clara.
"When I first got here, I noticed right off the bat that Richard Sherman's personality is good for the ecosystem of this organization," wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said on "NFL Total Access Live." "He's a big part in why this organization is winning. Around here, they don't call him Richard Sherman, they call him 'Uncle Sherm.' Because Sherm, he's the facilitator, he's the police officer around here. He polices a lot of stuff. He'll see a guy walking around with his pants a little down and he's like, 'Hey! Pull them pants up!'
"From a playing standpoint, we know what he brings to the table, you know? I was talking to [Denver Broncos cornerback] Chris Harris, he came out for the game, and I told him Sherm shuts down the whole left side of the field. I really do believe that, man. He's an All-Pro talent, he's a future Hall-of-Famer and I'm blessed to be able to play alongside a guy like that."
Sherman's play on the field has spoken for itself this season. The veteran cornerback earned second-team All-Pro honors, as well as a Pro-Bowl nod and a selection to the PFWA's All-NFC team. He's been completely dominant, only giving up one touchdown in coverage and allowed quarterbacks to complete just one pass per every 19 coverage snaps, per Pro Football Focus.
His personality and edge have been even more valuable to the 49ers. He has set an example for the 49ers' younger players who haven't been in the playoff pressure cooker, and his "me against the world attitude" is something the whole team can rally behind when needed.
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday)
Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 5:30 p.m.