San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman understands the rivalry with the Seattle Seahawks a little better than perhaps most players on either side of Sunday's Week 17 showdown at CenturyLink Field. He has, after all, been on both sides of the rivalry. And he's enjoyed playoff-atmosphere wins on both sides, too.

Such was the case on Sunday Night Football, when the Niners survived two late fourth-quarter drives by the Seahawks to cling on to a 26-21 victory in Seattle, clinching both the NFC West and the No. 1 seed in the conference for the postseason. On top of that, Sherman helped the 49ers end their elongated victory drought at CenturyLink Field, which previously stretched back to December of 2011 -- the same year the 31-year-old Sherman was a first-year NFL rookie.

The 49ers' win over Seattle surely feels good for every player on the team's roster. But one can only wonder what it meant for Sherman.

"It's a great feeling," Sherman told reporters after the game when prompted about the victory over his former squad. "It's a great feeling to get the one seed, to be NFC West champions. That's your goal coming into the year. ... But I'm thankful. I believe in our team, we believe in each other. That's what makes it special."


Sherman and the 49ers defense managed to stifle his former teammate, quarterback Russell Wilson, over the first half. San Francisco was out to a 13-0 lead with Wilson having tossed just 55 first-half yards. In the second half, however, Wilson bounced back and the Seahawks scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, nearly netting a third with seconds remaining, only to see rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw make the stop of the season on the 49ers 1-yard line.

"Greenlaw is a rookie," Sherman continued. "And he's making plays like that in a big-time game. The moment is not too big for him. ...

"He's just incredibly poised. He came in ready to play. I think he was a fifth-round pick, but he doesn't play that way. He looks like a guy that should have been drafted way higher."

Sherman surely has his share of game-saving plays in the 49ers-Seahawks rivalry, but he certainly didn't shy away from giving more credit to the rookie. And in typical fashion, Sherman also pointed out the defense has plenty of work to do after risking the team's lead late in the fourth quarter.

Still, helping get what was predominately a young Niners squad back into the playoffs and atop both the division and the conference, especially over his former team, has to feel even better for Sherman.
  • Peter Panacy
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    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.