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Richard Sherman wants to believe that 49ers defense can have an “LOB” now

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NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

“It’s taken some time, but the San Francisco 49ers’ plans to mimic the Seattle Seahawks “Legion of Boom” defense appears to be coming together.”

That’s a pretty bold first sentence to write out for NFL.com’s Kevin Patra, but apparently Richard Sherman was convincing enough for Patra to say it, or at least for the NFL’s editor to push for that angle. For Sherman, it makes sense and not just because he’s Richard Sherman. Players always overrate the team that they’re on, especially publicly, and in this case Sherman was pushed, of course, by the NFL Network to compare the two teams.

But there’s a fascinating lack of evidence that the 49ers are about to feature a secondary with two definite and one possible Hall of Famer. So I find it interesting that NFL.com would keep creating a narrative that San Francisco and Seattle are similar throughout the article and then publish a finishing sentence like this one: “...it’s about as close as we’ve seen to anyone potentially getting in the same vicinity of those LOB teams.”

Really?

When pressed to compare the two defenses (Seahawks back then and the 49ers today), Sherman said he’s starting to see similarities and that schematically it should be the same given that Robert Saleh (former Seattle assistant) is still the defensive coordinator, but his first thoughts on why they were like the LOB start at ... defensive end?

“I see similarities now, obviously, with all the pass rushers we have now, all the talent we have up front,” Sherman said. “The linebackers are versatile. They can run, they can cover. And then in the backend, we’ve got tall, rangy corners. We’ve got Jason Verrett now, who’s very versatile. K’Waun (Williams) is a great slot (corner), and we’ve got a hitter in the strong safety box.

“So I think we’re going to be similar. Obviously, it’s the scheme, schematically, it’s similar, but we’ll see. We’ve got to be consistent. We’ve had some really good days out here. You’ve got to stack them, though, as you know.”

San Francisco is indeed running out what is likely to be an improved pass rush. They traded for Dee Ford and drafted Nick Bosa second overall, adding those players to a front that already has DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas, the third overall pick in 2017. In fact, if you compared the Niners defensive line to Seattle’s right now, it wouldn’t be night and day.

It would be more like night and an empty Coke bottle. I don’t know what that means other than it means that even if the 49ers aren’t the LOB, they could very well be better than the Seahawks on defense at this point.

But the comparison to the LOB is not just a mis-characterization of what we all come to know as the “LOB” (Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor for the most part), it is a gross stretch of a reality in order to fit inside of a box that looks like a popular NFL story. In fact, when you watch the video of Sherman’s interview you can see how those quotes were pieced together quite strategically.

Let’s continue the comparison anyway.

Seattle’s free safety was Earl Thomas, a first-team All-Pro in 2012, 2013, and 2014, helping the Seahawks reach the Super Bowl twice. Many would say that Thomas was the most talented player on that entire team and he’ll be in the Hall of Fame. If he stays healthy for another five years, he won’t have to wait long to be in Canton.

San Francisco’s free safety is Adrian Colbert.

Excuse me, sorry, I have to take a sip of water. Feeling a little dry in the throat this morning.

The San Francisco 49ers are starting Adrian Colbert at free safety. Colbert managed to somehow escape mention by Sherman or in the piece. He’s the “Earl Thomas” part of the Niners “LOB” defense. PFF ranked Colbert 93 out of 93 safeties last season. You think San Fran drafted his replacement? They drafted zero safeties. You think they signed someone? They didn’t. The backup might be Jimmie Ward, the former first round bust who was re-signed and then broke his collarbone in OTAs.

Seattle’s strong safety was Kam Chancellor, a second-team All-Pro in 2013 and 2014, helping the Seahawks reach the Super Bowl twice. During the Seahawks 2013 Super Bowl run, I wrote over and over again that Kam was the MVP of the team in the playoffs. I’d stand by that. He was the best player on the field in multiple postseason games that year. And in 2014, the leaps! Kam changed the strong safety position and could make any tight end think twice about wanting a target.

San Francisco’s strong safety is Jaquiski Tartt.

Pardon me, so sorry to be doing this again, I forgot I was boiling water for tea. It’s whistling now. Just a moment. What the hell, I’m out of Stevia? Well, this isn’t great. Not off to a great start. No, it’s fine, Kenneth. It’s fine. Drink it plain. Hey, that’s not bad at all. And another sip of water for this old chap. Ah, refreshed once again and ready to continue my line of thought.

The San Francisco 49ers are starting Jaquiski Tartt at strong safety on their NFL defense. And being compared to Kam. Tartt has been in the league for four years and never started more than eight games. Never. Not one time. Tartt’s career has been thrown off by injuries but this is not exactly the same as constantly losing Bob Sanders. He’s not an elite game-changing strong safety and in fact he hasn’t beaten out 2018 sixth round pick Marcell Harris for the job yet.

Maybe Harris is the one who plays just like Kam? Neither Tartt nor Harris were mentioned in the article, not even as “The Next Kam Chancellor.”

Perhaps we should just focus on how great San Francisco’s other corners are. After all, Sherman played next to some very good ones. Like Brandon Browner, a one-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion. And Byron Maxwell, once one of the highest-paid corners in the NFL at one point who consistently made the most of his opportunities when starting alongside Sherman.

The player most likely to start next to Sherman: Ahkello Witherspoon.

Hold on, sorry. A third time? This is nuts. But there’s a knock upon my door. I need to get that. Hello? Oh, hey UPS. A package? I wasn’t expecting that. Here’s my signature. Have a nice day. Let me just open this really quick. What the .... Stevia? I didn’t order this ...

Anyways, the San Francisco 49ers are starting Witherspoon probably. I did a ctrl-F and typed “Ahkello” and nothing popped up on the article. PFF ranked him the same as my favorite 90s R&B group: 112.

(If you’re in Boyz II Men and you’re reading this, I forced that in as a joke. 112 is not my favorite 90s R&B group.)

Witherspoon has been supremely not good in his NFL career which is probably why Sherman talked about Jason Verrett and K’Waun Williams instead. Verrett represents that addition of a former first round pick and one-time Pro Bowl corner. He’s also missed 55 of a possible 80 games in his career. Williams is a slot corner and he’s two years older than Justin Coleman. He’s 28.

To recap the L.O.B.:

Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner/Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond, Jeremy Lane

To recap the “next L.O.B.”:

Adrian Colbert, Jaquiski Tartt, Richard Sherman (who I’ve graciously allowed to go this far without mentioning that he’s 31 and has been injured in each of the last two years), what remains of Jason Verrett/Ahkello Witherspoon, K’Waun Williams.

Wow, apparently it’s actually pretty easy to build the next L.O.B. It doesn’t even take a track record of showing significant ability. That’s amazing! San Francisco ranked 27th against the pass by DVOA last season, which is impressively high considering that they allowed 35 touchdowns passes against only two interceptions. Yep, QBs against the 49ers in 2018: 35 TD, 2 INT, passer rating of 105.4.

In 2011, the Seahawks were 9th against the pass by DVOA, and in 2012 they were third. What step exactly is San Francisco in this process? 1996?

If the 49ers are supposed to be building the next L.O.B. because of Bosa, Ford, and Buckner, does that mean that Sherman or the NFL also believe that Seattle’s true stars were Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and Chris Clemons?

Quick, someone break out the “this Seahawk is only good because of that Seahawk” tweet!

Oh and by the way ... Seattle’s defensive front was better in 2013 than what I think you could actually expect from San Francisco’s defensive front in 2019, including after the additions that they made. The Seahawks not only had Bennett, Avril, and Clemons, they also had Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant, Clinton McDonald, Tony McDaniel, and Bruce Irvin.

All of those players played together at one point.

Bosa has zero career NFL games. Ford had his major breakout last year finally at the age of 27 and he’s switching over from an entirely different defense while being expected to at least repeat his production of 13 sacks and 29 QB hits. Solomon Thomas has probably been the second-worst pick of the 2017 draft so far, after Leonard Fournette. Just in terms of draft position value compared to production. He has four sacks in 30 games.

And if you’re looking for more bad first round picks at defensive end, sneak a peek behind Thomas to see Arik Armstead. I wonder which other player on the roster could be just as good as Brandon Mebane.

Was it D.J. Jones, the projected starter at defensive tackle next to Buckner? Must be, because Jones was in a career-high 22% of snaps last season and was fine at best! That’s what I think of when I think of Mebane, Seattle’s best player remaining when Pete Carroll and John Schneider arrived in 2010. Or maybe not Jones, maybe it was Sheldon Day or Ronald Blair or Julian Taylor or Kevin Givens or Jay Bromley or Jordan Thompson. All of those players are just like the defensive tackles I mentioned earlier on the 2013 Super Bowl defense. It’s the same.

It’s exactly the same. I get it now, all of these players are basically 1:1 comps.

Young Richard Sherman::Old Richard Sherman

Earl Thomas::Adrian Colbert

Kam Chancellor::Jaquiski Tartt

Brandon Browner::Ahkello Witherspoon

Chris Clemons::Nick Bosa

Brandon Mebane::DJ Jones

Cliff Avril::Dee Ford

Young Malcolm Smith as a backup::Old Malcolm Smith as your starter

KJ Wright::Fred Warner

Fuck... am I really about to write the next thing? Am I really going to do it? WHY AM I DOING IT, RICHARD? WHY AM I DOING IT, KEVIN PATRA? WHY, NFL.COM!!! WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME DO THIS? ARE YOU JIGSAW?! IS THIS A JIGSAW?!?! STOP JIGSAWING ME!!! PLEASE STOP JIGSAWING ME!!! I DON’T WANT TO REPENT! I DON’T WANT FORGIVENESS! KILL ME, JIGSAW!!! DID YOU SEND ME THAT STEVIA? YOU’RE WATCHING ME AREN’T YOU!!! FINE I’LL FUCKING DO IT. I’LL DO IT. BUT YOU’RE SICK. YOU’RE FUCKING SICK!!!!!

Bobby Wagner::Kwon Alexander

fafrewgnwerl bshiuoserhnbgsergertbseybrywergvervrvbywytryb^26562b4uby2v345vtgscdfunfimfuckingdead

Just what the hell happened this week? What was this? I’m sure you’re wondering the same thing about my article but I honestly did not expect my findings to be this ridiculous. When reviewing the 49ers defense again after reading these types of statements:

While the 49ers boast a beastly front, potentially good linebacker corps, and possibly very good corner duo, the safety crew can’t match what the Seahawks once boasted with Earl Thomas -- no one can replicate his field-patrolling ability. Still, it’s about as close as we’ve seen to anyone potentially getting in the same vicinity of those LOB teams.

it’s about as close as we’ve seen to anyone potentially getting in the same vicinity of those LOB teams

as close as we’ve seen to anyone potentially getting in the same vicinity

seen to anyone potentially

anyone

In the last five years, the closest we’ve seen to another “LOB” is literally older Sherman, a rookie pass rusher with zero experience, Buckner, an $85 million pass rusher switching over to playing LEO on a new team, a player who has missed over 70% of his career, and other?

That’s closer to the LOB than the 2018 Chicago Bears? It is? They had two Pro Bowlers in the secondary, a Pro Bowl linebacker, a Pro Bowl defensive tackle, and the number one scoring defense — something the Seahawks had for four straight years with the L.O.B. The closest thing to a team building a defense that allows the fewest points for four years in a row is ...

The 2019 San Francisco 49ers?

Them and not the 2019 Baltimore Ravens. A team that also features a former L.O.B. member (the better one?), Tony Jefferson at strong safety, Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith at cornerback, plus Tavon Young in the slot and Brandon Carr as backup? That’s not as close to the L.O.B. as Sherman, Witherspoon, Colbert, and Tartt?

Fascinating.

Well, we’ve had some fun today and I think that’s all the fun I can handle. I have a Jigsaw to escape and some Stevia to drink. Is that supposed to be capitalized? I doubt it. I’m not going back to change it. I’ll have to stand by what I wrote.

Stevia.