Over the last decade, the best 49ers teams have been led by their superb defenses.
Names like Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Justin Smith, Richard Sherman, Nick Bosa and a whole cast of stars have dominated that side of the ball when the Niners were one the NFC's best teams.
Yet while the 49ers this last season were tremendous on offense, led by mastermind Kyle Shanahan, some of their best offensive seasons from the skill positions came earlier in the decade when the defense was getting all the recognition.
Let's rank the top offensive seasons for the 49ers skill positions from 2010-2019.
Before Richard Sherman was shutting down receivers as the 49ers' star cornerback, he was feuding with San Francisco's top pass-catcher as a member of the Seattle Seahawks' Legion of Boom.
The 49ers and Seahawks' rivalry was at legendary heights when Sherman was leading Seattle's defensive backs. And his beef with Michael Crabtree was front and center. It reached new levels when Sherman called Crabtree a "sorry receiver" when he shut him down at the end of the 2013 NFC Championship Game to beat the 49ers.
To Sherman, however, that somehow doesn't count as trash talk.
"That wasn't really trash talk," Sherman told comedian Kevin Hart on LOL Network's "Cold As Balls." "Like sometimes, it's just the truth. Sometimes you just let your truth ring free"
Crabtree had four receptions for 52 yards on eight targets and didn't score a touchdown in the 49ers' loss. Sherman had two tackles and his one pass defensed was a tip that wound up being a game-winning interception from Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith.
Hart also asked Sherman if he and Crabtree still are "friends."
As he pulled a Dennis Rodman with his hands, Sherman, in an odd fashion, said, "It's a complicated, convoluted ... a lot of moving parts to the situation that go up and down and around and over there. You know, one of those situations where you just let it be everywhere but nowhere, and I ain't never there."
Sherman's issues with Crabtree started well before the two squared off in the NFL, and it's all thanks to Sherman's older brother, Branton. When Richard was a receiver at Stanford, Branton knew how to get his little brother motivated.
“Bro, I don’t know who this guy Crabtree is over at Texas Tech, but he is doin’ numbers!” Branton remembered telling his brother in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco in October 2019.
“So what?" Richard replied, according to his brother. "He’s at Texas Tech. They throw every single play. He’s not all that good. He’s a’ight, he’s cool, but he’s not that good where those numbers match up to how good he is.”
The younger Sherman has been the master of motivation in the NFL. His older brother isn't too bad at it either.
Richard Sherman's hatred of the 49ers was well-documented.
The cornerback relished beating San Francisco as a member of the Seattle Seahawks, making his decision to sign with the 49ers as a free agent in 2017 such a surprise. Sherman's disdain for the Niners didn't stem from their status as NFC West rivals, but from the man who coached San Francisco from 2011 through '14: Jim Harbaugh.
"I wanted to put him out of the league," Sherman told reporters at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. on Monday at Super Bowl Opening Night (H/T Santa Rosa Press Democrat's Phil Barber). "And once I got that done, I had no animosity toward the 49ers organization."
Harbaugh coached Sherman at Stanford University from 2007 through '10. Sherman told NBC Sports Bay Area in October that Harbaugh said the Compton native quit on his Cardinal teammates by undergoing season-ending surgery in 2008. Sherman was granted a medical redshirt for that season, but Harbaugh wouldn't let the then-wide receiver -- who led Stanford in receiving yards as freshman and sophomore -- play on offense during his redshirt junior season. Falling to the fifth round (No. 154 overall) in the 2011 NFL Draft, Sherman felt Harbaugh didn't help him in the draft process, either.
Sherman's Seahawks lost their first three games against Harbaugh's 49ers, but they quickly turned the tide in the rivalry. They won five of the last six matchups, including an infamous 2013 NFC Championship Game victory that featured Sherman calling Michael Crabtree -- another target of his ire -- a "sorry" wide receiver after Sherman tipped the game-deciding interception to linebacker Malcolm Smith.
Harbaugh lasted just one more regular season after that loss, "mutually parting ways" with the 49ers after an 8-8 season that included two lopsided losses to Sherman's Seahawks. He returned to the collegiate ranks to coach at the University of Michigan, his alma mater, and he hasn't returned to the NFL since.
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 9 p.m. Tuesday and 3 p.m. Saturday).
Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.