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49ers CB Richard Sherman ‘excited’ to see former Seahawks teammates in Week 13

49ers CB Richard Sherman has four passes defended, 24 tackles and one sack this year. (AP)

Sunday will bring a highly-anticipated meeting between the Seahawks and their former All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman. The occasion has dominated coverage this week, but for Sherman, Week 13 feels like just another game.

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“(I just have) the same motivation,” Sherman said during an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton that aired Thursday (listen here).

The now-49ers cornerback denied having any extra motivation to beat Seattle.

“We want to go out there and win the football game, give ourselves the best chance. But it’ll be a fun opportunity to go back to Seattle and enjoy what I do.

“I think it’s going to be fun. It’ll be fun to come back and go against some guys that I’ve been friends with for a long time. It’ll be a fun opportunity for our team. A system I’m familiar with, a place I’m familiar with obviously. I’m excited.”

Sherman told Clayton he hasn’t given much thought to what his reception might be. From the Seahawks’ side, though, both coach Pete Carroll and linebacker Bobby Wagner told reporters Wednesday they’re expecting him to receive a warm reception.

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“I have no idea, honestly,” Sherman said of the reaction he could receive from fans. “I haven’t thought much about it. I did a lot for the city, I gave a lot to the city. So I’d guess it’s a pretty positive reception.”

Sherman signed with the 49ers after being released by Seattle in March. Sunday will mark the first of two reunions between player and team, the other being a matchup in San Francisco on Sunday, Dec. 16.

Seattle will be facing a 49ers team this week that has suffered injuries at key positions, including season-ending ACL injuries to both starting quarterback Jimmy Garappolo and starting running back Jerick McKinnon.

“(The season has) been more tough because of injuries,” Sherman said. “You lose your starting quarterback, you lose your starting running back, both of our starting receivers have been out for amounts of time, we probably lost half of our secondary, and half of our linebacker group for the season. So anytime that happens it’s going to be very difficult to win games. But we’ve competed. We’ve played hard and given ourselves a chance in every ball game. That’s really all you can ask.”

Here are a few other things Sherman said in his interview with Clayton:

When you think about how things ended with Seattle, how do you look back at those memories? “Well, I look back at the memories fondly. I think it’s unfortunate that it had to end the way it did. You know I think … people would assume that they wouldn’t cut me, especially while a guy’s injured and still rehabbing and trying to get back. But unfortunately they did and it’s one of those things (where) you’ve just got to roll with the punches and continue to push forward. And, you know, thankfully I got a chance to sign with the 49ers and get a chance to continue my football career.”

What are your best memories as a Seahawk? “I would say it’s just being in the locker room and getting to know the guys. Getting to know their families, getting to know the good, the bad, taking the journey, the ups and the downs. The entire thing was a good time. And these are people I still know to this day, people I still have a genuine relationship with. And I appreciate that, because it was all made possible by our time together.”

There have been so many changes to Seattle’s defense since you’ve left. It must be strange to hear so many new names: “Right, right. I’ve noticed as they start to talk about it a lot of different names than I recognize. But there’s still the mainstays there with K.J. (Wright) and Bobby (Wagner), Jarran Reed is still there, Frank (Clark) is out there having a terror of a season, Bradley McDougald, Shaq (Shaquill Griffin), those guys are having a really good year. So I’m excited to see those guys and continue to see their growth this season.”

You spent a lot of time working with Shaquill Griffin when you were here. What have you seen from him this year? “Well he’s definitely taken the leap. He’s gotten his hands on more balls. He’s played more patiently and more deliberately. They switched him over to the left side which I think has allowed him to play faster and his movements to be better. His play recognition, you know, the way you turn for the football and catch it (have improved). His tackling has always been a strength but I think it’s improved this year. His recognition and being able to come up quicker in the run game. I think those things have rubbed off really well and I’m happy to see the player he’s become.”

What’s it going to be like trying to cover Doug Baldwin? “It’ll be the same as it’s been for the last, what, 10 or so years? I’ve competed with Doug since we were in college and I was a DB and he was a receiver. So it’s been about 10 years of us facing each other every day, so it won’t be much different than that, honestly.”

I imagine it’s no different when it comes to Russell Wilson, having faced him so many times in practice? “Right, right, it’s the same looks, the same things we’re used to, I’m sure. They’ll take their shots and we’ll be prepared when they do.”

How it’s been coming back from the Achilles injury? How have you played? “You know, early on, especially early on when I first started to run, it was an adjustment. Just the body trying to figure out how to move the same as it did before. And after not doing anything explosive or anything really athletic for eight months, it took a second for my body to re-adjust. But as the season has progressed, I’ve gotten better week by week. Felt my body kind of recover faster and really allow me to do the things that have made me a special player over my career.”

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John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle
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