THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Since entering the NFL as a fifth-round draft choice of the Seahawks in 2011, CB Richard Sherman has established himself as one of the premiere players at his position.
Though he's now with the 49ers, that reputation still remains and resonates with the Rams.
"He's just so smart," Rams QB Jared Goff said. "He's a really smart player. He's had the issue with the achilles in the past, and I think right now you see him fully healthy, doing his thing."
As Goff alluded to, Sherman dealt with adversity not too long ago but has been able to successfully overcome it.
In early November 2017 – Sherman's final season in Seattle – the former Stanford star ruptured his achilles and missed the remainder of the season, then the Seahawks released him the following offseason.
Sherman proceeded to sign with the 49ers in March 2018 and has amassed 52 total tackles, 10 pass breakups and two interceptions in the 18 games since. Both of his picks have come this season.
Overall, the three-time First Team All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler has registered 34 interceptions and 109 pass breakups in eight-plus seasons. His 34 interceptions lead the league.
"Smart corner, knows his coverage, knows his leverage, plays it well," Rams WR Robert Woods said. "Doesn't get beat deep. Keeps everything in front of him. Attacks the ball when he can. Really, (he) just does his job, does his job pretty well."
Teams don't test Sherman often, and his top 25 coverage grade of 75.8 for his position from Pro Football Focus further reinforces the risk teams take when targeting him. Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron went back to Sherman's second interception of the season as a recent example.
“You really need to be aware of him," Waldron said. "He had another great interception this past week, where he’s visual on the quarterback and he’s running the route before the route even declares itself, just because he’s got that great sense, that great awareness."
Familiarity is also at the forefront of L.A's offensive players and coaches minds as they continue their preparations.
"I think, like anything else, when you’re playing against a great player and a great player that’s seen so many route combinations throughout his career and does such an unbelievable job at pattern matching things, you’ve just got to be aware of him. You’ve got to be sure of the throws and the receivers have their part in running crisp routes and making sure that they’re really threatening him in all levels there.”
Whether as a member of the Seahawks or 49ers, Sherman has yet to record an interception through three meetings with the Rams in the Sean McVay era. That being said, Los Angeles isn't looking for that streak to end anytime soon and keenly aware that it could happen on any given play.
Sherman's body of work speaks to that.
"He’s always been a great player," Goff said. "Again, I think he’s just so smart and you can tell the way he reads patterns and understands offense and understands how we’re trying to attack a defense. Makes it tough on us.”