Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers defense benefitting from Richard Sherman’s leadership

Aug 8, 2019 at 9:25 AM--

During a break in Wednesday's practice, San Francisco 49ers veteran cornerback Richard Sherman left a stern message for the defense.

"Sherm is an outstanding leader and his message was that we're getting to a point in camp where it's easy to feel sorry for yourself," 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said during the August 7 press conference after the practice. "But, if you want to be a champion, champions rise to every occasion. So, he wanted to see the team finish strong and that was basically the message."

Saleh said Sherman was visibly upset after the defense gave up four red-zone touchdowns.

"Obviously, with confidence in yourself you feel like you can hold other people accountable," Saleh said. "Sherm has nothing to prove when he speaks. He has a lot to prove to himself every day because he's such a great competitor, but with his resume and all that stuff, when he speaks, people are going to listen."

Sherman was the 154th pick of the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft.

Along with safeties Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, cornerbacks Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner, Sherman would form the "Legion of Boom" of the hard-hitting Seahawks defense from 2011-18.

With his outstanding playing time with the Seahawks, Sherman made the All-Rookie team in 2011 and is a three-time All-Pro.

From 2013 to 2017, many considered Sherman to be the best cover corner in the game as he consistently took away opposing offenses' number one receivers.

One example was with 30 seconds in the 2013 NFC Championship game. Sherman tipped a Colin Kaepernick pass intended for Michael Crabtree which was intercepted by then-Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith, who is now a 49ers linebacker.

In a postgame interview with then NFL on Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews, Sherman took the infamous shot around the world against Crabtree.

"Well, I'm the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you're going to get," Sherman said.

The turnover would propel the Seahawks into a Super Bowl appearance and the franchise's first championship with a decisive 43-8 victory against the Denver Broncos.

After being cut by the Seahawks a day earlier, Sherman signed with the 49ers on March 10, 2018.

Despite 2018 being the All Pro's worst statistical year, his presence and experience should help the 49ers defense, which lacked veteran leadership before his arrival. Even a young Ahkello Witherspoon worked out with him and a group of NFL veterans in June of 2018.

"This year, you can feel his confidence, you can feel his energy, he's standing taller, he's playing faster," Saleh said. "I don't want to say he's more vocal, but you can hear him. So, he's in a good place right now and he's got to keep going in the direction that he is."

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