No. 3: Safety Marcell Harris
The 49ers switched things up a bit in Week 13, moving Jaquiski Tartt from strong safety to free safety, which allowed Marcell Harris to get the first start of his pro career after missing the majority of 2018 with a collegiate-related Achilles injury — one which forced him to miss all of 2017 at Florida.
Harris’ efforts in Seattle weren’t particularly great. He led all Niners defenders with three missed tackles on the day and finished with a paltry 25.6 tackling grade, according to Pro Football Focus.
Yeah, not exactly the best starting debut.
That said, Harris’ coverage skills weren’t particularly bad. PFF awarded him with a respectable 74.9 pass-coverage grade for the game on 23 coverage snaps.
One doesn’t need to make excuses for the shortcomings from Harris’ game. But it’s important to note this is the first time he received a heavy number of defensive snaps at the pro level. Before Week 13, Harris had been on the field for a mere 14 defensive snaps. He had 58 against the Seahawks.
So it’s possible to assume Harris was dealing with some of the proverbial rust from missing such an extended time. And as Harris found out, players at the NFL level are a little faster, stronger and shiftier than what he experienced in college.
With all the depth concerns the Niners have had at safety all season, letting Harris work those kinks out is vital in determining his role beyond 2018.