Bethea getting comfortable in new role

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Antoine Bethea was unusually quiet during the offseason phase of the San Francisco 49ers' season.

"In my nine years in the NFL, it is probably the quietest I've been since my rookie season," the 49ers new safety said Friday. "I didn't want to come in here starting talking right away. I wanted to fit in first."

Bethea is a natural leader and played that role with the Indianapolis Colts' defense. He signed with the 49ers as a free agent to replace Donte Whitner. Bethea doesn't plan to be quiet for long. Still, he wants to lead and fit in with a veteran group all the same.

"Leadership is a slippery slope. This is already a veteran team," Bethea said. "But I think my leadership has and can come naturally. I tell some of the younger guys things here and there when I think it can help and I will do that more.

"I'm a veteran and a safety, I can't be quiet. I have to do what it takes to help this team as much as I can and I think I will be talking more and more as the season goes on."