By Jawann Bennett
The Seattle Medium
Fresh off of a comeback victory against the Carolina Panthers, the 6-5 Seattle Seahawks welcomed home an old friend, who returned as a NFC West division rival in former Seahawk and All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman and the San Francisco 49ers, who visited a Seattle Seahawks squad that is in the midst of a late season playoff run.
There has been no love loss with Sherman towards the Seahawks, who released him in the offseason while recovering from an Achilles injury that cut his 2017 season short. Sideline feuds with certain coaches, teammates and apparent bickering with some members of the media ultimately added to the decision to let him go.
Gone but not forgotten, Sherman was an intricate and dominant part inside the locker room and on the field during his time in Seattle and is still revered as such by his former teammates. His presence with the ‘Legion of Boom’ defensive backfield helped lead the 2013 Seattle Seahawks to their only Super Bowl victory in franchise history. Sherman had one of, if not the most iconic play in franchise history against his now current team in the NFC Championship game by tipping a Colin Kaepernick pass in the end zone leading to an interception late in that game that clinched a spot in the Super Bowl that year.
However, the decision by head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks coaching staff to pass instead of run on 2nd and goal from the 1-yard line late in the Super Bowl a year later which resulted in an interception, was a decision that ultimately started the fragmentation of the chemistry of one of the most endearing relationships between coach and player in NFL history.
Now a seasoned 8 year veteran, Sherman showed little sign of the Achilles injury and was showed much of the respect garnered as one of the most feared cornerbacks in the league with his former teammate quarterback Russell Wilson not throwing to his side at all in the first half.
“We talked about it all week how he was going to prepare for this game, like he does every other game…he is one of the best defenders and competitors that I’ve ever played with or gone up against,” said former Stanford and Seattle teammate receiver Doug Baldwin of Sherman.
However, Wilson and the Seahawks had other first half plans on offense as he would only attempt 6 passes completing 4, 3 of which were for touchdowns. The first was a 4-yard touchdown to receiver Jaron Brown putting Seattle up 6-0, followed by a celebration with fellow receiving teammates David Moore, Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin re-enacting Sherman’s iconic championship tip play.
The second was a 52-yard rocket to Lockett to put Seattle up 13-0. The third a 1-yard pass to Baldwin putting Seattle up 20-0 as they would go to halftime with a comfortable 20-3 lead.
“You’ve gotta give credit to the offensive line for giving me time to make those throws,” said Wilson, who finished with 4 touchdown passes for the game.
Even though the Seahawks offense would remain efficient to start the second half and rookie running back Rashaad Penny would find the end zone with a 20-yard touchdown to put Seattle up 27-3, the story of the game was about the Seahawks’ bend-not-break defense led by linebacker Bobby Wagner. Despite 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens throwing for 418 yards and two touchdowns, Wagner recorded 12 tackles, a fumble recovery, a sack and a franchise-record 98-yard interception return for a touchdown that would send the 49ers home with a 43-16 defeat.
“I was just trying to make sure that the quarterbacks didn’t catch me because if he did everybody was going to give me crap,” Wagner joked after the game about the touchdown return.
It was the 9th straight victory and 11th in the last 12 meetings over the 49ers (2-10) for the now 7-5 Seahawks who will play San Francisco again in Santa Clara in less than two week.
Next week, Seattle has Monday night showdown with the Minnesota Vikings who are just a half game behind the Seahawks in the NFC Wildcard race. The Seahawks have a favorable schedule down the stretch of the season, as they are home for four of their last five regular season games.
Game Note: Former Washington Husky receiver Dante Pettis caught two touchdown passes against the Seahawks and finished the game with 129 yards receiving.