Most 49ers fans are just hoping the team’s defense this year improves from the below average standing they’ve held since the Jim Harbaugh era. Cornerback Richard Sherman thinks they have a chance to be a whole lot better than that, however. In fact, Sherman is seeing parallels to his old Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” defense, which was one of the best units in the NFL during Sherman’s tenure from 2011-2017.
“I see similarities now, obviously, with all the pass rushers we have now, all the talent we have up front,” Sherman said in an interview with NFL Network. “The linebackers are versatile. They can run, they can cover. And then in the backend, we’ve got tall, rangy corners. We’ve got Jason Verrett now, who’s very versatile. K’Waun (Williams) is a great slot (corner), and we’ve got a hitter in the strong safety box.
“So I think we’re going to be similar. Obviously, it’s the scheme, schematically, it’s similar, but we’ll see. We’ve got to be consistent. We’ve had some really good days out here. You’ve got to stack them, though, as you know.”
Even seeing similarities is high praise coming from Sherman. The “Legion of Boom” was the top ranked defense by points allowed for four consecutive seasons from 2012-2015, and were in the top 10 in six of the seven seasons during their existence.
While the Seahawks group was defined by a secondary featuring three All-Pros in Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, the ability of their underrated front seven to get to the quarterback certainly made things easier on the back end. Sherman believes that the 49ers front seven should be a catalyst for an improved defense across the board.
“It does make a huge difference,” Sherman said of the pass rush. “No slight to anybody else that came before, but these guys are getting to the passer, and they’re putting pressure, making the quarterback uncomfortable in his footwork. So they are airing passes, they’re off their back foot, they’re not putting it exactly where they want it to be. So that gives DBs a chance.”
49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was on Seattle’s defensive coaching staff from 2011-2013, and employs many of the same schemes with San Francisco.