© Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
SANTA CLARA — Sunday will mark the first time Richard Sherman plays in Seattle’s CenturyLink Field as an opponent. The 49ers (2-9) will take on the Seahawks (6-5), where sights of Sherman on the opposing sideline should spark plenty of interest in an otherwise dormant rivalry.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll opened up about his seven years working with Sherman on a conference call with Bay Area reporters Wednesday morning.
“We had a great time together,” Carroll said. “We went through so much, and so much growth, challenges, victories, frustrations and stuff. We went through a ton of stuff together. I really cherish the time that Sherm was here. I really enjoyed working with him. He’s such a bright person and such a great competitor and extraordinary performer.”
Nearly nine months ago, Sherman signed with the 49ers about 28 hours after the Seahawks released him. The swiftness of joining the division rival he once antagonized added drama to the situation.
“When we got down to the time we were parting, we were very straight up about what was going on, had meetings about the challenges and expectations and really mentoring them all the way throughout,” Carroll said. “I felt like we had completed our time together in a sense, and it had been really profitable and fun. I really cherish it. We haven’t talked a lot since he has been gone.”
Sherman said the way his Seahawks tenure ended “felt disrespectful in a way” because the team had stuck with other aging veterans, including free safety Earl Thomas and tight end Jimmy Graham. Sherman had led the Seahawks to two Super Bowl appearances and one victory throughout his time with Seattle. His Achilles tear, suffered last November, added an obvious wrinkle into his future with the club.
After he was released, Sherman also commented Carroll’s message had gotten stale.
“Any coach that has been in the same situation for a long time recognizes you have to keep battling with your messaging, and your philosophy, and your approach to keep it fresh and to keep it new and all of that,” Carroll said. “It’s a challenge. Every year you have new people, and every year I had to go back, speaking personally, go back and start over. When you do that, the message is repetitive. If you really have a philosophy, it better be. If you believe in something, you are going to stay with it. That’s a challenge for the learners too, whether you’re a first-year learner or seventh-year learner to keep it fresh and stay curious and all of that.”
Carroll said he is “really fired up” Sherman recovered from his Achilles tear the way he has. The three-time first-team All-Pro has been solid, blanketing his side of the field in most matchups, while being in the 49ers lineup in nine out of 11 games this season.
“(I) thought that was a remarkable turn for him,” Carroll said. “I have nothing but really good memories of all of it. There were really challenging times we went together, and it was really fun.”