For the first time in his eight-year NFL career, Richard Sherman will stand on the visitors sideline at CenturyLink Field. Week 13 marks Sherman's first trip to Seattle since he was released by the Seahawks back in March. As the veteran cornerback looks forward to "seeing some old faces" on Sunday, here's a look at what Seattle's locker room had to say about Sherman's return and the upcoming divisional matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.
Head coach Pete Carroll on challenges Seattle faces against this 49ers team:
"We're worried always about a Kyle Shanahan team. He's a fantastic coach and does a great job with his offense. We've watched him for years and years and gone against him for years in different places and always have had great respect. They can run it, they've got a really good scheme to get the quarterback out of the pocket. They do all kinds of really good things and it's going to be a big challenge for us there. It's always important for us to run it and hopefully we can do a good job. If you look at their (49ers) stats, you'll see they're giving up a hundred yards a game rushing which is really good and really solid. Robert Saleh (49ers defensive coordinator) is doing a good job with those guys on defense. We have a big matchup. We have to take this opportunity really serious and do a good job with the week."
Carroll on what he's seen out of Nick Mullens:
"He's been efficient. He gets the ball out. They move him a lot in the play action game. If you look at it, it's been hard to get to him. He's only been sacked four times in about 100 throws – he's done a real nice job there. He makes quick decisions, that's why he's getting rid of the football well. They've mixed him in to matchup with the running game quite well."
Carroll on what he thinks Sherman's legacy is in Seattle:
"It's consistent with playing great football. He did it over a long period of time. Hit the scene with kind of a big splash early on and it was probably through year two when he kind of showed up and everybody knew he was out there. He just kept doing it year after year after year."
Carroll on what he thinks the Seahawks fans reception of Sherman will be like at CenturyLink Field:
"They'll be great. I mean, I think he's loved around here for all the great stuff that he did. I don't know that it's going to be noticeable what the reception is like. If it's noticeable then it's pretty significant. He did a lot of great stuff here. I don't think our fans think any differently than I do about that."
Carroll on if he has any regret on how things ended with Sherman:
"We had tremendous conversations about all the way through the stages of what happened at the end. Sherm and I were sitting in my office eye-to-eye talking through everything. It was really straightforward, clear. He was handling his own business so he had to really be on top of it, which he was, and he did a fantastic job for himself, too. Our communications were great. We really haven't communicated since then – I don't know, there may be a couple of messages here and there back and forth. I've watched carefully to see how he's doing. Like I said earlier today, I was really concerned about his rehab and his coming back. He did a marvelous job of getting back just like you knew he would, but he still had to do it. It was a great accomplishment to get that done."
Carroll on what he's seen this season out of George Kittle:
"George Kittle is really good. He was a really good prospect coming out. He's a really talented player. He's a good blocker as well. I think you go to the coaching, recognize that and put him in the positions too, so it's all of that. He's a really good player."
Carroll on how the 49ers have had to change their offense due to injuries:
"They are a run first team. Kyle's (Shanahan) always been that way, so that's not that much different. It's really, the subtleties are – there's some but not worth mentioning. It's pretty much their offense. The style looks the same."
Carroll on the differences and similarities between Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay:
"One thing, they both kind of grew up under the Mike Shanahan kind of thing – you know, Kyle was in the house. They kind of grew up together. The systems, there is a lot of carry over there. There foundations of the running game is the same and so there is a lot of commonalities throughout. It's really fascinating to see Kyle go this way and Sean go this way with their stuff because the offense doesn't look the same now, but when you know them as well as we do, you can see all the commonality that's there that's part of the foundation of what they are doing. They're just different. They're both exceptional – they're savant, young guys. They're just way out there with what they do and how they challenge you. It's really for a ball coach, it's really exciting to see how different they've become when they started kind of in a similar place. It's just a tribute to the uniqueness of the two individuals."
Carroll on the challenges of containing Matt Breida:
"He's really quick. First, they're an outside zone running team. (The 49ers) stretch the defense and he has a great burst. He's really fast and it shows up all the time – not just when the ball gets on the perimeter and bounces, but when he makes his cutbacks and all. His suddenness is really special and he's tough. He runs tough and is very consistent too."
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer on the biggest challenge of facing Shanahan's offense:
"The 21-personnel stuff is different, not a lot of people do that. A good mix of run and play-pass. I think they just keep people off balance. The fullback that they have, a lot of respect for him – he's a good football player. Kyle is a really good coach. We both kind of came in around the same time, both have fathers (who coached in the NFL). So, a lot of respect for what he's done. They make it hard on teams."
Schottenheimer on the challenges on having a father who coached in the NFL:
"Yeah, it's interesting. I look at it both ways now because now I'm a parent and I've got kids that deal with the good and bad parts of the coaching business. It's a great profession. It's awesome, but it's hard. You get exposed to things. I'm probably a senior in high school or maybe a freshman in college and I'm hanging out in quarterback meetings with Joe Montana – it's pretty cool. There is days that you don't want to go to school because you lose a big game and you don't want your friends to tease you and things like that. The way I think of it the best is – and somebody said this to my father, I don't know who it was – the cool thing about it is it shows your father that you love and respect the game that he loves. To follow in his footsteps, I knew what I was getting into. I knew this was a tough profession where you'd be hired, you'd be fired, you'd be moving, things like that, but the joys of victory are hard to be. So, when you win a big game like last week (against the Carolina Panthers) for example, those tend to outweigh the tough losses, which certainly are going to come along the way."
Schottenheimer on if anything has changed about Richard Sherman's game since going to San Francisco:
"I still see a really good football player. I still see a guy that dissects things really well. I think his ability to pattern read and recognize things is uncanny. I still see a guy playing at a high level. It's been cool to be around the guys that know him, they certainly know him way better than I do. I think it's interesting because they know him, he knows us, and so that's what's going to make for a fun matchup on Sunday."
Schottenheimer on if he designs plays differently because of Richard Sherman:
"No. I think we just study the film. It's not us playing Richard, it's obviously the Seahawks playing the 49ers. We got our concepts that we like and the ones that we think are going to work well against them. As Russ (Wilson) knows, every time you go to throw over there, really to anybody, you've just got to make sure you got a good line of site and you see what's happening because he sees things really well."
Schottenheimer on what stands out about the 49ers defense:
"The front four is really good. One of the best groups I think we've played. They probably don't get as much credit maybe as they deserve. From top to bottom, (Solomon) Thomas and (Arik) Armstead and (DeForest) Buckner, all those guys. They're really a really good front. They're powerful, they're big, they're strong, great motor. There is some carryover from the things that we do here. I think everybody that's ever been here, they think it's all the same defense – it's not. When we played the Chargers, it's not exactly the same, everybody has their own fingerprint. Really good group. They're beat up a little bit, they've had some injuries which has forced them to play some young players. If you look at them statistically, I think they're top 10, top 15 in mostly every category. It's a good defense."
Schottenheimer on the problems DeForest Bucker causes:
"I think it's multiple. His size is a problem. Both his ability to use his hands and his length and knock people back. His ability to get in the throwing lane, so we have to do a good job of keeping the pocket clean. (He has an) Unbelievable motor, they move him around. Some of the games, they run a lot of games, so they'll switch and stunt. He's really good with those, so he can accelerate for a big man. Have not watched him much in years past. Really a good football player. (I have) a lot of respect for him."
Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr. on what he remembers about coaching Sherman with the Seahawks:
"It's funny watching Richard come in as a youngster and grow coming as a lower round draft pick and really work himself up to the great player that he's become. It's amazing how you see that in our players here. You see a lot of young players here that come in looking just like Richard and they go on through the developmental process of trying to become a really good player trying to understand the things that the good players do. Watching Richard grow and become who he is has been a great example for us to pass on to these younger players that we have here. He's been a great example for us pass on the things that we saw out of him."
QB Russell Wilson on what stands out about the 49ers defense:
"You know, the thing about their defense is the front defensive linemen – those four guys are really, really talented. Cassius Marsh, as well, as he comes in and out of the game, he's pretty special. I've had to play against him too many times in practice and he can make some plays and cause havoc. Across the board, they're really making a lot of havoc up front. I think, too, is obviously Sherm (Richard Sherman) is as good as it gets at corner. He can make a lot of plays, so you've got to know where he is, understand that and I've got a lot of respect for how he plays the game and how intelligent he is. Obviously, their defense is going through some stuff right now with injuries and everything else, but we can't take these guys lightly. They're middle-ranked pretty much all defensive categories. You wouldn't know that if you just thought about the record and everything else, but they've still got a really good defense and they've caused some havoc. The defensive coordinator, Robert (Saleh), he's amazing. Coach Saleh has done some amazing things with what they do on their pressure packages and everything else. We've got to be ready for those things."
Wilson on facing his former teammate in Sherman:
"Like I said, I have tons of respect for Sherm and how he plays the game. He's going to be a Hall of Fame corner. He's a guy that meant so much to our football team when he was here – just how many plays he made. Like I said I think a couple of days ago or last week, the thing that I respect about Sherm more than anything else is how he brings it everyday at practice, even when he's hurt. He always practiced, was out there. He didn't have to be – all-pro player guys who's done so many different things and – and he always was able to do that. Not just that, but he was always able to teach the younger guys as well. To be able to go up against him in practice every day helped my career. Just helped build my understanding of the game and just confidence and everything else going on. He's one of the best corners, it prepares you. I'm grateful for that. Going up against him is a tough challenge. You've got to know where he is, he's extremely smart like I said. He's got great hands. He can do it all."
Wilson on if he understands why some quarterbacks won't even throw at Sherman's side:
"I think more than anything, you play the game how you see it and you just trust your eyes. He can make all the plays. You've got to understand that not many guys can make all the plays that he can make. You drop back and you trust what you see and trust what you know. You play it aggressive, but you play smart and you understand where he is for sure at all times."
Wilson on if the 49ers are using Richard Sherman the same way he was used in Seattle:
"Yeah. It's pretty much the same defensive calls in terms of their scheme and stuff like that. He's playing the zone, he's also matching up man to man. When the game is on the line, he'll go man to man against sometimes the best receiver too as well as you've seen in some of the games and stuff like that. He's still Sherm. He's still got the capabilities to do everything."
LB Bobby Wagner on what he's expecting from Sherman:
"Probably a lot of trash talk. He's not going to get a pick. I won't let him get a pick. If he gets a pick, he's going to definitely say something. If I get a pick on the sideline, I'm going to say something to him. It's just going to be fun. I think it's going to be cool to see him. He's a guy that we've been fighting with for a long time so it's going to be cool to kind of be back on the same field, per say."
Wagner on if he has any regrets about the end of Sherman's tenure:
"Obviously, I was hoping – you hope that you're able to play a long time with the people that you came into this game with. I think for me, it was kind of like a cool situation for him because he ended up in San Francisco, where he went to college at and was still in California, where his family is close. He still has his house in Seattle so it's not like I'm not ever going to ever see him ever again in life. From that standpoint, it was all love. You understand it's a business and the team's going to make the best decision for themselves and he's going to make the best decision for him. Sometimes, it means parting ways. I don't really have any regret or anything like that. For me, as a friend, it's just being supportive and making sure at the end of the day, he's happy."
Wagner on how he's not going to let Sherman get an interception:
"Yeah. If he catches or is about to catch one, I'm just going to come in and just check in real quick and see if I can swipe it. Hopefully, he's making it on my sideline. Maybe I'll just step in on accident and get in there."
Wagner on his favorite on-field moment with Sherman:
"For me, I don't know if it was a moment. It was just like, us playing together. We would always at some point in the game talk about something that had nothing to do with what was going on in the game. Whether it was a TV show or something, and it was kind of like a way to not take the game so seriously. Make sure you're just having fun and things of that nature. We would make fun of each other when we hit each other. He was notorious for hitting me on accident because he closed his eyes – and let him know I told him that. But, it was just like the fun you had together. It was fun playing together, the trash talk, he knew how to get a person going so that's probably like my moments that I'll have."
Wagner on Breida's success in the 49ers offense:
"He's really fast and he likes to get on the edge. Our edge is definitely going to be tested. They're going to try to run outside. They have a lot of good runs to complement (and) have us thinking it's going to be an outside run and then it cuts back. It's definitely going to be a discipline game. It's going to be a game that we need to make sure we're on our fits, but from him it's kind of like he's going to be a fast guy. They're going to try to get him on the edge, they're going to run a lot of stretch plays to see if they can find a crease in the defense and make it a track game. We're fast too, though."
Wagner on how he thinks Sherman should be received:
"He should be received with the loudest cheers that they can possibly cheer and the warmest of welcomes. It's not like he said 'I hate this team, I want to leave.' It was the business side of everything. I would be surprised if they booed. If anybody booed, they didn't like him when he was here. I think he deserves the applause. He was a part of the team that helped bring this city the first football championship so I wouldn't expect anything other than respect. Even the way he went out, he went out with a lot of class, as he is as a person. I would be surprised if they booed him. If they do boo him, then they weren't a Richard Sherman fan in the first place."
Wagner on what he's seen out of Mullens through three starts:
"They're going to get it out quick. He seems like the type of guy that, once he completes a couple of passes, he gets his confidence in and they're going to definitely have the run game. The run game helps him out a lot. They're going to get him on a lot of play actions and all those different things. We've just got to make sure he doesn't leave that pocket and make sure we try to (make him) beat us with his arm and make our plays and make our hits. He's a good quarterback but he's a guy we feel that we can get after."
Doug Baldwin on facing his long-time friend Sherman:
"He's not just another cornerback. He's a very good close friend of mine who I spent over 10 years with. So he's a friend. A person that I admire and respect and appreciate. I look forward to seeing him on Sunday."
Baldwin on if Richard Sherman will be able to separate his exit from the rest of his career in Seattle:
"I don't know. I mean, from a humanistic standpoint, I think it's very difficult to separate those emotions. He gave so much blood, sweat and tears while he was here. I think him coming back, there will be some emotions there (with) coming and playing in this stadium, albeit in a different jersey. I think that'll definitely have some emotional baggage with it."