The San Francisco 49ers conducted three press conferences on Monday with Jim Harbaugh, Frank Gore and Donte Whitner all speaking. I had a chance to watch all three (audio here) and I thought Whitner provided some of the best insight. You can listen to Whitner's specifically, here.
Whitner was asked about his role as a mentor and coach on the field given the 49ers lack of veteran depth at safety. He acknowledged that was the case and spoke about how he and Dashon Goldson both were there to provide the youngsters with encouragement and instruction as needed. As he put it, secondary coach Ed Donatell can't be everywhere at once, so having guys that can coach up the young guys is huge.
Whitner stated that you have to be an unselfish player to be willing to teach and work with younger guys since these are the same guys who will be working to take your job. He pointed to Trenton Robinson as a guy he has worked closely with this offseason. The NFL is all about competition and even though it's a team sport, there's a certain element of every man for himself. But Whitner realizes the need for depth at the safety position, so working with the youngsters does still provide important benefits.
The best part of his time with the media came when he was asked about his hit on Pierre Thomas and the irony of him taking out Thomas after the now infamous Gregg Williams meeting the night before. Whitner said that he was not happy to have injured Thomas, but he was happy to have the turnover. In regards to bounties and threats, Whitner simply said that if you have the right guys on your team, you don't need that stuff. He stated that the 49ers defense had no need to talk a big game because they would prove exactly what they were all about on the field. Several of the running backs the 49ers faced last year learned that lesson the hard way.