Five years ago, the 49ers traveled to Seattle to take on the Seahawks for the crown of the NFC. This year, San Francisco is sitting on two wins and already looking forward to next year, while the Seahawks are fighting for a playoff spot.
Both teams have fallen off from what was looking to be a decade-long battle for the NFC West. Instead, the 49ers are in a full rebuild, while the Seahawks are on the cusp of one.
Despite the “rivalry” having no meaningful games on the line, there is still some animosity between some of the players and the fans.
Forty-Niner fans are not quick to forget the Seahawks knocking them out of the playoffs and going on to win the Super Bowl, which might have jumpstarted the team’s decline from dominance. The 49ers haven’t made the playoffs or even had a season over .500 since Richard Sherman tipped Colin Kaepernick’s pass into Malcolm Smith’s hands.
Ironically enough, both Sherman and Smith are wearing red and gold these days. Although Smith did win a Super Bowl MVP with Seattle, he was never considered a cornerstone piece of their defense, and had a brief stint in Oakland before crossing the bay and signing with San Francisco. Sherman, on the other hand, is a different story.
Sherman was arguably the best corner in football during his time with Seattle. He was looking to be a lifer, a player who spent his entire career with one team. Teams build entire rosters are players of his caliber.
Unfortunately Sherman suffered an Achilles injury last season, and one thing led to another, and the Seahawks released him.
This obviously hurt the 30-year old corner, and what better way to get back at your former team than to sign with an upcoming division rival. The season didn’t turn out the way Sherman or the 49ers hoped, with their franchise quarterback tearing his ACL in Week 3, but there’s no doubt both Sherman and the Seahawks have had this game circled since before the season started.
In a press conference with reporters, Sherman had some things to say about his old team.
“You just expect after you’ve done so much for a franchise that they wouldn’t cut you while you’re hurt. It’s kind of more of a respect thing than anything, but they did, so you have got to kind of roll with the business.”
Sherman did reminisce about Seattle’s old success, but still had some criticism for his old team.
“It was a good time for the team. It was a good time for the organization. They didn’t handle some things like I felt they should have, other guys felt like they should have.”
Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin mirrored that sentiment when discussing how Sherman left the team last offseason.
“I thought it was really s---ty, to be honest with you, how it ended. [I] would have really liked for him to stay here and had an opportunity to finish his career with this organization, but it’s part of the business.”
If Sherman wanted to hurt them in the standings, he probably could have signed with the Rams or another NFC powerhouse like the Saints or Vikings. But there was no real history between the Seahawks or any of those teams. He chose San Francisco because it was personal.
The 49ers’ season might be over, but it might be a safe bet that as long as the 49ers can pull out a win against the Seahawks, especially if it’s in Seattle, both Sherman and the fans will be satisfied. The 49ers aren’t making the playoffs, but there’s nothing more satisfying to a bad team than playing spoiler to a rival.
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