RENTON, Wash. -- Richard Sherman, the Seattle cornerback and poet laureate of NFL smack talk, was asked Wednesday about why the 49ers and Seahawks hate each other so much.

"I don't hate anybody," Sherman clarified. "But passion? Definitely. There will be some dislike. There will be some strong dislike."

And there will be some yapping. There will be some strong yapping. The NFC West rivals meet Sunday at CenturyLink Field with the winner advancing to the Super Bowl.

Expect Sherman to lead the defense -- and the discussion group. The talkative All-Pro corner already had advice before practice Wednesday when asked about silencing 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin, who jawed all day with Carolina Panthers defenders Sunday en route to an eight-catch, 136-yard day.

You won't see the disciplined Seahawks caught up in that, Sherman vowed.

"If (Boldin) wants to gab, then we'll deal with it," he said. "You don't have to head-butt him and do all of this crazy stuff to react to him. You slow him down. You stop him. If you don't want him in your face, don't let him catch the ball."

Sherman serves as the spokesman for the NFL's best secondary. Seattle topped the league in passing yards allowed (172.0), interceptions (28) and opposing quarterback rating (63.4).

The unit plays with a mauling style that tests the boundaries of the rule book. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh is among those who have publicly wondered if a flag ought to be thrown more often.


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Kevin Gilbride, the just-retired New York Giants offensive coordinator, joined the chorus recently by telling The Wall Street Journal that the Seahawks have "perfected the art" of pass interference. Seattle beat the Giants 23-0 in Week 15.

"I think he's the guy that's a little bit bitter," Sherman said of Gilbride. "His team didn't score any points that game, so I'd try to find a way to explain that, too."

Sherman said the Seahawks simply play with an aggressive style that ought to be embraced by NFL purists. He said the modern crackdown on contact has undermined the league's classic style.

"Every receiver every play can drop a wide-open pass and they'll turn around looking for a flag," he said. "And I think that kind of ruins the game. That kind of ruins the intensity, the whole DNA of football, if you see flags every single play.

"You know, there are going to be some pushing-offs and grabbing here and there, and that is the game of football. That's how it is. That's how it's always been. Ask the Michael Irvins of the world, the Jerry Rices who had to deal with those before these rules (changes). That is real football."

Considering his rise to prominence, it's hard to believe Sherman was a lightly-regarded prospect out of Stanford, where he played under Harbaugh. The former receiver wasn't drafted until the fifth round, which seems mind-boggling.

"It's incredibly mind-boggling," Sherman said Wednesday. "It fuels me every single day. I looked at what people wrote. They said, 'He's stiff. He has no ball skills. He doesn't have the instincts to play corner.' I think about that every day."

  • There was lots of praise here for 49ers linebackers. Quarterback Russell Wilson said the speedy tandem of NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis will make scrambling difficult.

    "(Inside linebackers) can't get any faster than that," Wilson said. "I can run pretty good, but they can run extremely fast. They're very physical, very smart football players, and I have a lot of respect for them and what they do."

    Because Bowman and Willis dominate the headlines, Ahmad Brooks can go overlooked. But Seattle coach Pete Carroll said: "He's not underrated around here. He's been aggressive and tough and playmaking all year long."

  • Receiver Percy Harvin did not practice Wednesday. Instead, he headed for a medical evaluation of the concussion he sustained Saturday against the New Orleans Saints. Harvin missed 15 games during the regular season because of an offseason hip injury.

    Follow Daniel Brown on Twitter at twitter.com/mercbrownie.