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MICHAEL DE ADDER CARTOON: FEB. 27, 2020
Star 49ers corner has done it against past star receivers
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A lot of discussions prior to Sunday’s NFC championship game centres on San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman.
Specifically, on whether he’ll be matched up 1-on-1 against star Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, no matter which side of the field Adams lines up on. Typically, Sherman plays only on the left side of the Niners defence.
“I don’t care, either way,” Sherman said. “I’m trying to win the football game. I’m not trying to win the individual matchup.
“He’s a great player. He’s somebody that we’ve obviously got to account for where he’s on the field at all time. But in terms of individual matchups, it means nothing to me.”
Sherman, 31, is winding up his second season in San Francisco, after spending his first seven on the Niners’ arch-rivals, the Seattle Seahawks. He has revived his career here, after his final season in Seattle in 2017 was cut short when he required surgery on both Achilles.
Sherman was named to his fifth Pro Bowl in his nine-year pro career, and was a second-team all-pro selection. Three times in Seattle he was a first-team all-pro.
Adams, meantime, has never been better. The 27-year-old, who grew up just 30 km from Levi’s Stadium in Palo Alto, was slowed in September and missed all of October with a painful turf-toe injury. Thus, his drop in production (five touchdowns, by far his fewest since his second season, 2015) ended his two-year string of being named to the Pro Bowl.
But make no mistake, Adams might be playing the best football of his six-year NFL career right now. Since Dec. 1 Adams has caught 45 passes for six touchdowns.
Rodgers this week said the on-field rapport he now shares with Adams equates to that which he had with wideout Jordy Nelson in the last few years of the latter’s time in Green Bay, 2008-17.
“It was special, man,” Adams said upon hearing what his QB said. “It seemed Aaron always knew where (Nelson) was going to be, even when it was off-schedule. There was nothing Jordy could tell me. It was just a feel, bro.”
Adams had arguably his most impactful NFL performance in Green Bay’s 28-23 defeat of Seattle last Sunday in an NFC divisional playoff game. His 160 receiving yards set a new Packers playoff record.
Rodgers attributes Adams’ ascension to the work he has put in, especially down the stretch this season. That Adams now can recall on the spot various ad-libs from identical game situations weeks, even years, before approaches the kind of chemistry Rodgers said he had with Nelson.
“He’s realizing how important that is, to improve,” Rodgers said. “That’s one part of his game that’s definitely changed. Being able to recall those things in those moments is how we’re able to get on the same page. He’s made a number of plays this season, plays that really show how connected we are.”
The first time these teams played this season, here on Nov. 24, Rodgers — who was harassed constantly in the pocket by San Fran’s relentless pass rush — targeted Adams 12 times but connected only seven times, for 43 yards and a late meaningless touchdown.
On Thursday, 49ers defensive co-ordinator Robert Saleh wouldn’t tip his cards as to how he plans to deploy Sherman in the rematch.
“We have a philosophy on how we operate around here, and that doesn’t mean we don’t look at every possible avenue,” Saleh said Thursday. “But I’ll stay away from that (question), I’m sorry.”
Packers head coach and chief offensive strategist Matt LaFleur went there, as far as whether he’ll deliberately deploy Adams more often on the opposite side of Sherman, against a pair of cornerbacks both of whom have struggled occasionally, Ahkello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley.
“It just depends what you’re trying to get accomplished,” LaFleur told a news conference in Green Bay on Friday. “We move (Adams) around quite a bit, so he’s going to end up all over the place.”
Are the Packers expecting Sherman most of the time to be deployed on his usual left side?
“That’s what we’re anticipating,” LaFleur said, “but we’ll have a plan in place if that doesn’t happen.”
Added Rodgers on Friday: “I’m not sure if they’re going to move Sherm’ around, but we’re for sure going to move Davante around.”
Sherman was asked Thursday about times in the past when he either often, or always, shadowed a top-flight receiver wherever he lined up. A few times, he said. Such as against Atlanta’s Julio Jones a few times, and against San Francisco’s Anquan Boldin in 2013, and Cincinnati’s A.J. Green.
“Like I said, we don’t draw up the defence,” Sherman said. “I don’t call the defence. Coach tells me what to do; I do it. For me to say, ‘Oh, man, I want this guy, I want this guy.’ I don’t really care.
“Does it help us win the game? Is it going to help the defence? Is it going to help us limit their explosives? Then I’ll do it. If it’s not, if it doesn’t make a difference, if it’s better for me to be on a side, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Even if he had a strong opinion on this issue, one way or the other, Sherman made a great point:
“You go to your job and tell your boss what you’re going to do, and what you’re not going to do, and see how long you last.”
Sherman on the ‘three different fields of life’
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Like anyone in any job, of course football players aren’t the same kind of people off the field, Richard Sherman says.
Nor even in the locker room.
“I think you treat people and carry yourself differently in all three phases,” the three-time all-pro San Francisco 49ers cornerback said. “One of them, you’re on the battle field. You’re there to do a job.
“In the locker room you’re a different person because you’re around your teammates, you’re there for a purpose. And at home, again, the circumstances change. That’s like me asking a person, hey, as a lawyer are you the same way in the courtroom as you are with your wife? Know what I mean? It’s going to be a different kind of approach … a different preparation, a different seriousness, a different tone.
“There’s three different fields of life.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020