The San Francisco 49ers brought in Richard Sherman to add considerable depth to the secondary, but to also serve as a leader for a group of talented, but young defensive backs. We’ve heard plenty about his work with Ahkello Witherspoon, but his leadership applies across the board. He took the secondary to dinner this offseason, but he is also showing his value as a coach on the field.
Thursday, following the opening practice of training camp, free safety Adrian Colbert spoke to the media about the influence Sherman and Earl Thomas have had on him this offseason. Colbert worked out with Thomas in Texas earlier this month, and learned more about his approach to the game when it comes to reviewing film and communicating with the rest of the team.
Sherman is able to provide insight, but given his own high level of play in the past, he is holding the younger defensive backs to a higher standard than they might have previously felt. Colbert in particular had a big rookie year for a guy who was a seventh round pick, and even though Colbert is a rookie until the end of training camp, Sherman is not treating him like a wet-behind-the-ears rookie.
“Just holding me accountable. Holding me accountable to making sure my footsteps are on point, making sure my footwork is locked in, making sure I know the responsibilities, making sure I’m communicating with both corners and my safety in Tartt.”
As the deep safety, Colbert handles communication with the defensive backfield. Although Colbert is vocal, Sherman has worked with him to improve on that.
“We communicate non-verbally. I’m yelling, but I’m also giving out hand signs. And that’s one thing he emphasizes to me, in the meeting room and yesterday when we’re in the training room. It’s just like holding me accountable, and that’s one of the things he’s brought to this room that we needed.”
Sherman brings veteran experience, but the rest of the secondary is going to be fairly young. Colbert and Witherspoon are second year players, while Tartt is entering year four, but only his second as a regular starter. An improved pass rush will help the group, but Sherman’s leadership could be just as key to their long-term development.