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Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner, 49ers QB Richard Sherman
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Not only could Seahawks-49ers rivalry be back on, but SF has LOB’s swagger

Bobby Wagner assumed leadership of the Seahawks' defense after Richard Sherman left. (Getty)

The Seahawks were afforded the opportunity to watch their next opponent, the Cleveland Browns, on Monday night. The Browns aren’t who people in Seattle were talking about on Tuesday, however.

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Baker Mayfield’s Browns were ripped 31-3 by the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle’s old NFC West rivals who suddenly look like a contender to win not just the division but also the conference. In fact, while the Seahawks are off to an impressive 4-1 start to the season, the Niners are actually a step better with a 4-0 record.

San Francisco is doing it with some brashness on defense that is pretty familiar in Seattle, too – especially since founding Legion of Boom member Richard Sherman is front and center in the 49ers’ D.

“You want idiots to sound like idiots,” Sherman said after San Francisco’s dominant defensive performance on Monday in a statement typical of his lightning-rod reputation.

Danny O’Neil of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant admitted that hearing that quote from Sherman caused him to have an emotional response.

“I miss that from Richard Sherman,” O’Neil said Tuesday morning.

It sparked an interesting conversation between O’Neil and co-host Paul Gallant as they wondered if the Seahawks-49ers rivalry is back on almost six years since San Francisco’s last playoff appearance. Let’s look at a couple of the things Danny and Gallant covered about the two teams:

Swagger has moved south

With Sherman at the helm, the 49ers are now emerging as outspoken in the same way the Seahawks were when he was an All-Pro cornerback for Seattle. Should the fact that Seattle doesn’t have that same outspoken nature anymore be a concern?

“How do they get back to that kind of a mentality, and do they need that kind of mentality to succeed defensively?” Gallant asked about the Seahawks.

“I don’t know if they can get back to it. No, they don’t need it,” responded O’Neil. “… I love it when a team has that. I like cocky defenses. (But) you don’t need to be swaggering in the way you talk about things to play incredible defense. … I don’t think this Seattle defense is going to have that sort of outspoken swagger. (Linebackers) Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are the two leaders on this defense, and neither of those guys’ personalities is to be over-the-top cocky.”

Gallant pointed out that the swagger seems to be working out just fine in the Bay Area.

“It is amusing to see Richard Sherman in a different spot and taking this swagger that the Legion of Boom had to San Francisco, an arch-rival,” he said. “… Defensively, that’s why the 49ers are undefeated I think right now. You saw a lot of it last night.”

O’Neil explained that the Legion of Boom used to complement the Seahawks’ offense, but Seattle’s personality as a whole has changed over the past few years.

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“This defense, the group that they have right now, is never going to have the swagger that they had in 2013 and 2014, and honestly I don’t think that lends itself to this team’s personality anymore,” O’Neil said. “That was a personality that paired really well with Marshawn Lynch and that physical style of running. This team’s personality is going to be different and I think it’s going to be complementary to Russell Wilson.

“… I did find myself already looking forward to the matchup and the idea that this rivalry with the San Francisco 49ers (is back), and the 49ers might be the one with the swagger that you want to shut up. The 49ers might be the one on Nov. 11 when you go down to play at San Francisco on Monday night, (the Seahawks say) let’s see if we can make them eat some of their words.”

Seahawks-Niners > Seahawks-Rams

While the Los Angeles Rams, who Seattle beat 31-30 last Thursday, are the defending NFC champions and have won back-to-back NFC West division titles, O’Neil maintains that he still feels like the 49ers are a better rival for the Seahawks.

“There is something about the 49ers that touches an emotional chord in me that the Rams do not,” he said. “The Rams have been the heavyweight in the division for the past two years, and sort of the whole ‘To be the man, you gotta beat the man’ (mentality), that’s why the Thursday game was so important. It comes to, for Seattle to really stake a claim or plant a flag at the top of the division, they’re going to need to win in Los Angeles. That’s how the balance of power shifts.

“There is something about the 49ers and watching that team and seeing them unbeaten at 4-0 that touches an emotional chord for me as a football fan (however), and for someone who’s lived in Seattle and for someone who experienced that rivalry from 2011 to 2014, that is different than the (rivalry with the) Rams has ever been. … It was a rivalry that flared up and it was as intense as anything that we’ve seen in the NFL in the past 20 years.”

You can hear the full discussion at the beginning of the final hour of Tuesday’s edition of Danny and Gallant (link here).

Follow 710’s Danny O’Neil and Paul Gallant on Twitter.

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