Even before Joe Staley retired after 13 seasons with the 49ers, San Francisco lost two other key members this offseason from its Super Bowl run.
The 49ers traded team MVP DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts and lost veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders to the New Orleans Saints in free agency. Both players were just as important for the NFC champions off the field as they were on it.
Richard Sherman knows what it's like to see his team lose key members, and how the locker room must evolve.
"It just leaves room for a next-man-up mentality as far as leadership," Sherman said Wednesday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac" show. "Guys like Fred Warner, Arik Armstead will have bigger roles in leadership. Obviously Kwon Alexander has a huge impact already, but he'll have an even bigger platform now. [Jaquiski] Tartt and Jimmie [Ward] will have bigger roles."
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Sherman always is the loudest voice in the room wherever he goes. That was true with Buckner and Sanders in the locker room, and it will stay the same with them gone.
But the nine-year veteran knows he can't do this alone. The 49ers must have strong voices throughout the team to be so successful again.
"It'll be by committee," Sherman said. "You don't replace guys like that individually. They're such huge figures that you do it by committee, and I think we have a strong enough locker room and even more veteran to withstand such a big change like that."
The 49ers have done their best to replace key players through the NFL draft or via trades, like acquiring star left tackle Trent Williams. The locker room is a different animal than the field, though.
Sherman knows the 49ers have to remain a tight-knit unit to hit their goal of being Super Bowl champions, and he feels this group is up for the challenge.