Richard Sherman

Seahawks part ways with 49ers' nemeses Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor

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AP

Seahawks part ways with 49ers' nemeses Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor

The Rams have owned the NFC West as of late, but it wasn't that long ago the 49ers and Seahawks were duking it out for divisional supremacy.

Five consecutive divisional titles between them. One monumental NFC championship game matchup. Stacked rosters on both sides. Plenty of mutual animosity to go around.

But as is the nature of the NFL, there are ebbs and flows to contention windows, and the 49ers and Seahawks teams of the last couple years have not performed to the standard of those at the launch of the current decade.

The 49ers roster looks considerably different than it did then. Seattle's does, too, particularly after Thursday's developments.

The Seahawks announced that they have parted ways with receiver Doug Baldwin and safety Kam Chancellor after terminating their contracts with failed physical designations. Chancellor spent the entire 2018 season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list due to a neck injury, while Baldwin has undergone multiple surgeries this offseason.

"These are two of the most iconic players in franchise history and both were instrumental in establishing our championship culture, great examples of competitiveness and leadership on the field and in the community," Seahawks general manager John Schneider said in a statement. "These legendary players will always be a part of our Seahawks family."

Baldwin and Chancellor, of course, require no introduction for 49ers fans, having been exposed to their talents early and often throughout the prime of the rivalry. Baldwin was a frequent thorn in San Francisco's side, seemingly always finding a way to get open at the most critical time. Chancellor, all 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds of him, was about as intimidating of a presence as a receiver would find coming across the middle of the field.

[RELATED: Sherman was 'out there on one leg' in first year with 49ers]

With both Baldwin and Chancellor appearing headed for retirement, Earl Thomas signing in Baltimore, and Richard Sherman now playing cornerback for San Francisco, it's officially a new era in the 49ers-Seahawks rivalry.

Richard Sherman was 'out there on one leg' in first season with 49ers

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USATSI

Richard Sherman was 'out there on one leg' in first season with 49ers

The Warriors late Wednesday night alleviated a lot of concerns about the long-term health of Kevin Durant, stating the star forward did not sustain an Achilles injury.

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman knows first hand how much an Achilles injury can linger through the next season.

Sherman tried last season to downplay the impact a torn Achilles had on him during his first season with the 49ers. Sherman started 14 games for the 49ers and did not record an interception for the first time in his eight-year career. Sherman, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, ranks fourth among active players with 32 career interceptions.

Now, as the 49ers are in the third week of the team’s offseason conditioning program, Sherman feels free to admit the difficulty he experienced as he returned from the Achilles injury last year.

“I’m much healthier. I was kind of out there on one leg,” Sherman, 31, told Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee this week.

Sherman sustained a torn right Achilles on Nov. 9, 2017, while playing for the Seattle Seahawks. After the Seahawks released him, Sherman signed with the 49ers in March and started 14 games last season after his entire offseason was devoted to rehab.

Sherman’s physical condition did not prove to be a detriment to the 49ers. He was rarely tested as the team’s starting left cornerback. Quarterbacks, instead, chose to go after the 49ers’ right side, where Ahkello Witherspoon, Jimmie Ward, Greg Mabin and Tarvarius Moore started games.

[RELATED: The 49ers add some veterans for depth on the offensive line]

The 49ers set a dubious record with two interceptions – an all-time NFL single-season worst. Yet, the only notable moves the 49ers made to the defensive backfield this offseason were to re-sign free safety Jimmie Ward and sign cornerback Jason Verrett. Ward and Verrett have battled injury issues in their careers. Both signed one-year contracts. The 49ers invested a sixth-round draft pick in Virginia cornerback Tim Harris.

"I'm 100 percent good with (the defensive backfield). I don't think it'll be an issue," Sherman told the Bee. "The secondary wasn't the issue last year. We'd lose games by a touchdown down the stretch, the last second. It's not like, 'Oh man, the secondary was just getting killed the whole game and that's why we lost.' It was just guys' immaturity, mistakes, just not executing. Not knowing how to finish, not having finishers."

The 49ers took the offseason approach that the best way to improve the production in the secondary is to focus on a better pass rush. The 49ers acquired edge rusher Dee Ford in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs and used the No. 2 overall pick on Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa.

Richard Sherman will not judge Nick Bosa by his social media history

Richard Sherman will not judge Nick Bosa by his social media history

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman addressed the questionable social media past of 49ers rookie defensive end Nick Bosa on Monday, suggesting his personal beliefs are unimportant as long as the player is a good teammate and plays good football.

“It’s not like something where guys are like, ‘Hey man, what about what you said?’ No. No. If he can play, he can play. If he can’t play, he won’t be here,” Sherman told Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee after a speaking engagement on Monday night.

“But at the end of the day, that’s all that matters in football. Is he getting sacks on Sunday? Is he helping our team? Is he being a good teammate? Those are things that matter.”

Sherman added, “Now, if he’s a bad teammate, that’s something we’ll address.”

Sherman is one of the league’s most outspoken players on social issues. His comments were consistent with what one veteran African American player on the 49ers told Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area on April 26, the day Bosa apologized for calling Colin Kaepernick “a clown” in a social media post nearly two years earlier. The 49ers selected Bosa with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

“Kids make mistakes and say wild stuff,” the player told Chan. “I will judge him by the man he is when I meet him and interact with him over time."

[RELATED: The Choice - an in-depth look at Nick Bosa's journey to get to this point]

Sherman on Monday pointed out that Bosa has played with African American teammates at every level of his football career, beginning as a young player in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“One thing about football is that nobody really cares what you say if you can play,” Sherman told The Bee. “At the end of the day, I think a guy that has played with African Americans his whole life, not saying he can’t be racist, but they know how to maneuver around African Americans.”