“Wow. We just won the game to go to the Super Bowl.”
That’s how it felt Sunday against San Francisco when the last seconds ticked off the clock. Like a dream, a surreal feeling where you have to say it out loud just to make sure you have it right.
After that, it was all about enjoying the moment.
I’m still not sure the Super Bowl experience has really hit me yet, probably because we have some unfinished business to take care of. But I’m excited for the pure opportunity of it. I’m looking forward to the whole experience with the cameras, media, family time, and being around my teammates.
I just want to soak it all in, and take nothing for granted. We all understand how blessed and fortunate we are. The game of football can go so many ways. You play so many close games. And you never know when you’ll be back in this situation again.
There’s been so much we had to fight through from Week 1 to now. We’ve been battle tested. We had some balls bounce our way. We had some great interceptions against the Houston Texans. I was able to force a big fumble against Carolina.
It’s all part of the journey, and you have to enjoy the journey. Because when we reach the destination — if we win the Super Bowl — we’re going to look back and enjoy all those great moments that led there that much more.
CREAM OF THE NFC CROP
It feels great to know that we own the NFC, but the 49ers made us earn it.
As a defense, we were able to correct a lot of things we messed up when we lost to them in San Francisco. That’s why I tell my teammates: Every time we lose a game, it doesn’t define us. We learn from our mistakes.
The big thing I learned from that game was patience. There is a tempo and pace you have to harness against the 49ers. I was all over the place when we played them at Candlestick. Frank Gore had that long run, and that was a mental bust, especially on my part. I’m supposed to be the guy who eliminates big plays.
You have to learn from your mistakes. You really have to be hard on yourself. That’s how you evolve as a player and become the best.
If you keep working to make your weaknesses your strengths, pretty soon, you’ll correct every weakness you have. You’ll be like Peyton Manning, where you’ve seen it all. That’s why he’s able to run through all those reads and mess with a defense. He already knows how it’s trying to attack him, and what defense it’s in.
I take that same mentality on my end. Because if you mess up on something, you’re going to see that again. It’s a copycat league, But the next time you see it, if you’re ready, you can capitalize. Last week, I had a good flow and rhythm from the tractor reps I did in practice. That really transitioned into the game. I was iron sharp.
That said, I don’t do it on my own. My teammates have been pushing me since day one. They’re helping me to get better, and vice versa. You have to have a genuine appreciation for teammates who are willing to put in hard work, buy into the system, and never be satisfied with anything but continuing to evolve. It’s incredible to see the heights we’re reaching from that humble attitude.
Kam Chancellor had a great game on Sunday, and I still don’t think he’s scratched the surface of his potential. I tell him all the time, “You’re getting better every week, bro.”
It’s fun to watch him. He can impact the game just by being out there. That’s real impact. If a receiver comes across the middle against us and they get gator arms, it’s because they thought 31 was right there. He’s proving himself week in and week out, especially in these playoff games.
Great players always elevate, and he’s elevating by light years. He’s making everybody feel who he is. I know the Denver receivers and coaches are going to be talking about Kam Chancellor. You definitely have to know where he is at all times. Otherwise, he’ll let you know.
PRAISE FOR KAP
That was the first time Colin Kaepernick ever ran wild on us like that. Watching tape of him, we’d always see these explosive plays that he was getting against other teams.
It never really happened to us until last week.
He’s a fast guy as it is, but he seemed even faster when you take into account the game plan they ran against us. It was unusual. They really seemed to want to keep the ball in his hands.
They were running phantom routes like they were trying to get open, but they were just decoys so Kaepernick could run, almost like it was a draw. It makes it tougher to get to him because you have to deal with blockers already down the field. It’s always going to be a mismatch. When he gets into that second level with the linebackers, he’s going to out run them nine times out of 10.
Sometimes, he can even separate from players in the secondary.
One of his strengths as a runner is his height. He has such long strides, it causes you to misjudge his speed. It doesn’t look like he’s running that fast. But once you get close to him, his stride is so long, he’s just running away from you.
To watch that guy take over the game — he did a hell of a job of making play after play. That’s a special player right there. He plays for the 49ers, one of our biggest rivals, but I have to take my hat off to him. He played a hell of a game.
He also throws one of the hardest balls in the league, almost like a baseball player, and it comes out like a fastball. Hot. The play I had against Boldin in the end zone, Kaepernick was jumping up in mid-air as he threw. That was a dime. I was kind of surprised he even threw it. They usually don’t when I’m that close in the area.
Boldin kind of gave me the look of a crease route, like a post, so I tried to keep my eyes glued on him. In those situations when a quarterback scrambles, it becomes a little chaotic and you just want to try to stay with your man. Those are tough situations when you have to run in circles with your receiver. He’ll kind of push off as you try to find the quarterback, and now you’re trailing him as the quarterback makes a hell of a throw.
It was good offense vs. good defense and as a defender, I just think it was better offense. I should’ve made that play, but there’s nothing I can do to change it. You just have to stay positive. The only thing I’d correct: I’d probably keep my eyes on Boldin a little bit longer so that I was in better proximity with the quarterback throwing the ball. I still thought I had a chance at the interception — that’s why I cut him off — but I have to at least get my whole hand on that ball and tip it incomplete.
It’s a learning experience.
I definitely want to give some major credit to Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. I stopped those two the other day in the cafeteria just to tell them how important they are to what we do, but I also want to make everybody else aware of it.
Since those two guys joined the team, it’s been night and day in terms of pressure on the quarterback. We’ve always had a solid defensive line with Red Bryant, Bruce Irvin, Tony McDaniel and Brandon Mebane. But now it’s like rapid fire. We’re rotating guys in and out, and it’s helping everybody. Those two players have made the biggest impact of any of the new guys on defense.
Each caused a fumble in last week’s game, and Michael almost took the one Cliff forced back for a touchdown. I was behind him the whole play, and the funny thing I noticed watching it back was that I never called for him to pitch. Normally, anytime someone on our defense gets a pick or a fumble, I’m always alongside of them telling them to pitch the ball so I can score. But I was so into it on Sunday and wanted to win so bad that I just went down and blocked my butt off, trying to clear room for him.
We caused some big turnovers in the fourth quarter that swung the game our way. At the end of the game, especially when you’re in that type of championship environment, everything is going to be magnified. That’s when you really have to be on your technique, and we trust our technique. We have a saying: “The closer you get, the harder you run,” and I think that applies.
Good practice habits always transition to the game. That tipped ball play at the end was just like I said when we were in New York. When the ball is thrown to a spot, you have to run to that spot because you never know what could happen. A ball could get tipped, you could catch an interception or it could be caught and fumbled. Good things always happen when you run to the ball. Malcolm Smith did that.
Our wide receivers all had a heck of a game, and came up with some big plays to deliver that win.
Doug Baldwin really showed who he is in that game. It’s incredible to see an undrafted guy go out there like that, and just flow.
He’s been playing great in the playoffs. He had some big catches against the Saints. I said last week that Doug is a game changer on our team. I predicted that he was going to be like our Wes Welker, and look what happened. Watching the tape on Tell-The-Truth Monday, it was amazing to see how those two guys got us out of tight situations.
Jermaine Kearse had a great game too. I think he and Ricardo Lockette have the chance to be great. They’re both speed guys who can change the pace, and both have good body control. The best part is seeing them put in the work every day to get there.
When Kearse came here, I heard he dropped a lot of passes in college. It was great to see a guy like that go out, silence the critics and make big play after big play this year. I know it’s a dream come true for him to be playing for the Seahawks because he’s from this area. This is the team he grew up watching. For him to have this type of impact on the team, making those big catches and catching that game-changing touchdown, I’m sure that’s humbling.
Everybody played great and we got a great win that got us to the Super Bowl. Some of the attention was taken off of that because of Sherm’s interview after the game. But I think you have to applaud a guy who is really standing up for what he believes. As a teammate, I back him and support it.
People have to realize that in that particular moment, Richard was just getting off the field. When you’re on the field, you’re in the zone. You’re in a certain place mentally where people might not like you as a person. But that’s your job.
That job is also not all of what makes Richard Sherman who he is.
Richard is a very intelligent person. He’s used his education to his benefit more than many others. There’s a reason he’s having so much success on and off the field.
You can see his intelligence in his feel for the game. When teams try to throw a back shoulder on him, for example, he’s able to read the receiver’s eyes and adjust accordingly. He sees a lot before it happens. Most corners don’t think that way. He’s a technician. He’s not the most athletic player in the world, but his mind and his technique set him apart.
He’s also very humble. He’s a great teammate. He’s always doing stuff for the community, and to me, he’s a joyful guy. He’s always laughing. He’s doing these crazy Michael Jackson throwback dances in practice. When you see him in a game and he’s dancing out there, that’s just him. He’s going to try to catch everybody’s eye every time we play football. But you want that. You want to show who you are every time out there. He definitely shows who he is in his play.
The stuff that Sherm does — whether it is talking or dancing — that is him, through and through. He’s not doing it for the cameras. It doesn’t matter to him if no one is watching. He’s going to speak his mind, and say what he feels. He wears his heart on his sleeve.
We take pride on being entertaining. Coach Carroll does a good job of letting us find ourselves. All those unique personalities that we have on defense, that’s what makes us who we are. We don’t fit into the mold of boring, stereotypical NFL defenses. People just like to watch us because it’s pure. It’s coming from a good place. It’s from the heart. And it’s fun.
We’re like offense on defense.
We had our first practice of the week on Wednesday, and though it was more of an introduction to the Denver Broncos, it was very high tempo.
They have a unique attack. Peyton Manning isn’t a quarterback who is going to scramble, but the Broncos can cause problems for us with the play action pass and developing routes. So he still has that dual threat capability in the sense that any play could be a run or a pass.
We definitely have to be keyed in.
Having an extra week to prepare changes things a lot as far as practice goes. It allows our coaches to better understand the team we’re facing and game plan, and allows us to get comfortable with what we’re seeing.
That’s especially true for our defense going against a quarterback like Peyton Manning. We know how savvy he is. You can’t play games and try to outsmart him. He’s seen it all. He’s been in this league a long time, and there’s a reason he has accomplished the things that he has.
We just have to stay within ourselves and not get too caught up in the moving parts.
THANK YOU 12S
Being connected with you guys, the fans, throughout the whole journey has made it that much more fun.
The whole process of being home in our own backyard the last few weeks has been great. It’s been easy prep-wise. The games are obviously going to be hard. But when you know where you’re going, it’s your environment, you’re familiar with the football field and your fan base is behind you, all those factors make you more comfortable.
There’s a saying that all football fields are the same. But I don’t believe it. There’s nothing like our home field. We’re used to that field. We know every corner, every hump in the turf. And the 12th man — the 12th man is unmatched. You guys were great, causing penalties because of how loud you were. That factored into our success.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and from the whole team. We all know how great we have it here. Whether we win or lose, you’re with us.
I can’t ask for more than that. A lot of fan bases will turn on you quickly if you’re losing. But there were times we’d come home from a loss on the road this season, and get off the plane at 3 or 4 in the morning, and you were still out there, waiting for us.
You definitely held up your end of the bargain. Now, it’s up to us.