The San Francisco 49ers have a lot of youth in their secondary. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, who is slated to start opposite newly acquired veteran Richard Sherman, started just nine games last year during his rookie campaign. Rookie safety Adrian Colbert started six games for San Francisco.

Two veterans, safety Eric Reid and cornerback Dontae Johnson, were allowed to hit free agency. Safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward have seven years of experience between them, which happens to be the same number of years Sherman has been in the league.

How does Sherman feel about being a mentor on and off the field for such a young secondary, notably Witherspoon? The All-Pro cornerback answered that question during an introductory press conference on Tuesday.

"I'm familiar with [Witherspoon's] game more than I am with him as a person, personally," Sherman said. "I look forward to the challenge. I've always been a guy to take young guys under my wing and give them any advice that they've wanted or they were seeking. Whether it's staying after practice and spending countless hours of just technique or up in the film room when nobody is watching, 'This is what I see. This is how I see it. This is situational football. These are fundamental things for me that I look for in a formation in a game, in a player, in a split.'

"I look forward to helping this group grow. I think that one of my best attributes is leadership and helping guys get the best out of themselves. And I think that at the end of the day, that's all I want to do. I want to help them become better men and better players. Whatever that may be. If that means on-the-field just communicating better, if that's off the field, just getting your affairs in order in a better way that's more conducive of success, I think that's my job, and I take that responsibility seriously."

While his skill as a defender is a welcome quality, Sherman's veteran leadership may be equally valuable. One player that may benefit from that leadership is star linebacker Reuben Foster, who has already been arrested twice during the offseason. In January, he was arrested for second-degree possession of marijuana in Alabama. A month later, he was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of domestic violence, threats, and possession of an assault weapon.

"If I can help him, I'll do my best," Sherman told reporters regarding Foster.