Tyrann Mathieu has nothing but respect for Richard Sherman

AP

Richard Sherman‘s been willing to admit he might not the same player he used to be.

But Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu had ringside seats when he was, and remembers what he meant to the Seahawks.

Mathieu said that while he was with the Cardinals, that watching the 49ers cornerback during his days with the Seahawks showed him what leadership in a secondary meant.

“I think, I was so fortunate to play in the same division with Sherman and really Kam Chancellor, all those guys,” Mathieu said, via Josh Schrock of NBCSportsBayArea.com. “I used to marvel at some of the things that they do right? And it wasn’t really athletic things, right? It was more so the communication things and the mental part of the game, that I think he’s doing the same thing for San Francisco, right? He’s setting the tempo. He’s giving them the energy that they need, putting those guys in a certain mindset. You can tell he’s a clear-cut leader over there and he’s a guy I’ve always admired from a far.

“I’ve always tried to emulate, you know, his leadership, his thinking ability when he’s on the football field. He’s probably one of the most aware cornerbacks that I’ve ever seen play the game and I think San Francisco got lucky when they got Sherman.”

Like Sherman moving to the 49ers, Mathieu signing with the Chiefs has made an immediate difference for their defense, helping to legitimize the side of the ball which had previously been a weak point.

And he’s happy to admit he’s putting into play the lessons he learned from his stint in the NFC West.