SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Just before he gobbled up his second interception of the game, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman turned prophet.
In the fourth quarter of Seattle’s win against the 49ers, Sherman barked at San Francisco’s sideline, then started laughing.
“I told their sideline if they throw it my way, I’d end the game,” Sherman said. “And they threw it — still. Way to be, way to be.”
Sherman’s fourth-quarter interception, his second off 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, put the cherry on top of the Seahawks’ 19-3 dismantling Thursday of their biggest rival. And it added another layer to a personal rivalry with Kaepernick and the 49ers that has been brewing since last season.
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“What history?” Sherman said, a big smile betraying his innocence. “I know no history you’re talking of. There was a guy, there was an opponent, who said he was throwing to the open man. He didn’t care who was out there. And I was the open man.”
Let’s start at the beginning:
Sherman tipped Kaepernick’s final pass in the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers last year, then went on national television moments later and called Kaepernick’s intended receiver, Michael Crabtree, “sorry”. Two weeks later, in New York during the Super Bowl, Kaepernick fired back in an interview with the New York Post.
“I feel like he’s afraid of our receivers,” Kaepernick said, “and that’s something I look forward to (exploiting) next year.”
Of that comment in particular, Sherman said, “I think his choice of words there was poor. I have respect for his receivers. I think Stevie (Johnson) is a good receiver. Very talented, his releases are very deadly. Anquan (Boldin) has been a terror in this league for a while. Brandon Lloyd as well. Obviously you guys know I’m going to minus one.
“But when you get in defense mode, sometimes you say foolish things. And he was in defense mode.”
Sherman made sure to point out that he had plenty of help in shutting down the 49ers, and he was right. Pressure forced Kaepernick to throw on the run out of the pocket on Sherman’s second interception, and San Francisco never established a running attack.
But his interceptions stood as the biggest symbol of the Seahawks’ dominance, and Sherman didn’t mind basking in it after the game:
Q: Was there anything mediocre about this game?
A: “Their fans. Their fans threw a few jabs, and somebody threw a glass bottle as we were jogging in. You never have to resort to name-calling and some of the things they said. It really just helps you appreciate your own fans.”
Q: Did you notice how many left by the end?
A: “Yeah, I waved them goodbye.”
Q: What response did you get from their sideline after your second interception?
A: “I didn’t really pay attention. I was laughing too hard.”
In explaining his first interception, which led to the Seahawks’ touchdown in the first quarter, Sherman revealed the calculated, analytical approach that has made him so successful.
Kaepernick was looking for Lloyd on a comeback route along the sideline, a route Sherman said other teams had used against him earlier this season with some success. In fact, he said it’s a route that “usually gives me a little trouble.”
Sherman said the route was a “stutter comeback,” and he had prepared for the 49ers to attack him with it.
“So when I saw the first stutter, I knew that he was going to sit down,” Sherman said. “I was waiting for his body language to tell me he was sitting down. I broke toward the receiver, eyes toward the receiver, and I looked up and the ball was coming straight at me.”