RENTON, Wash. (AP) -- Earl Thomas considered it a sign of respect and it had nothing to do with where passes were being thrown.
The Seattle Seahawks' free safety noticed a new way that San Francisco tried to take him out of the game last Sunday. While the 49ers were careful not to throw in Thomas' direction very often, it was San Francisco sending receivers downfield to try and block Thomas that caught him by surprise.
It was the first time Thomas could remember an opponent trying to take him out of the play in that way. But as teams are learning, limiting Thomas' impact is one of the best ways to try and have success against Seattle's defense that ranks first in the NFL in total defense heading into Sunday's game against the Giants.