49ers vs. Chargers: 4 players who are fighting for final roster spots

Dante Pettis #18 and Kendrick Bourne #84 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Dante Pettis #18 and Kendrick Bourne #84 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /
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49ers vs. Chargers 5 players fighting for roster spots
SANTA CLARA, CA – NOVEMBER 12: Adrian Colbert #38 of the San Francisco 49ers breaks up a pass intended for Tavarres King #12 of the New York Giants during their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium on November 12, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

FS Adrian Colbert

We kick off our list with a former starter — free safety Adrian Colbert — who has little chance of making the final roster unless he completes the seemingly difficult task of both starting and finishing a preseason game in 2019.

The 49ers thought they drafted a seventh-round gem in Colbert, who ranked fourth among rookie safeties per Pro Football Focus (PFF) after he was thrust into action midway through the 2017 season:

Unfortunately, Colbert looked like a different player in 2018, and not in a good way. Colbert failed to make it through seven games before a high ankle sprain brought a premature end to his forgettable second season. At the time of his injury, PFF ranked Colbert as the worst starting safety in the NFL.

Many expected a bounce-back season for the defensive back in his third year in the league. However, even with fellow safety Jimmie Ward sidelined due to injury, Colbert struggled early in training camp and eventually lost his job with the starting unit to second-year defensive back Tarvarius Moore.

Then, Colbert’s first preseason game was cut short when a late and unnecessary hit on Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cedrick Wilson forced him from the game, and hit him equally as hard in the checkbook:

Colbert was ready to get back on track in San Francisco’s second preseason game, but his night ended early after he injured his hamstring in the first half of the matchup with the Denver Broncos. With just four days to recover before the following game, Colbert was kept out of action in the Niners’ Week 3 contest with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Despite Colbert’s lack of preseason playing time, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh told reporters on Monday that the third-year defensive back is still in the mix to make the final roster:

"So, Adrian, he wasn’t fully back in OTAs with regard to his injury. He had a really good 40 days off where he was able to rehab it more and get back. I know we haven’t had a lot of opportunities to see him. Shoot, we got, what, two snaps of him on defense during game action against Dallas? But he was starting to show up in terms of what he put back on tape and all that stuff as a rookie. Would love to see him get out there here in this fourth preseason game to show people how far he’s come, but again, it’s just him getting healthy, being healthy enough to be able to take that next step. -Robert Saleh"

The 49ers’ secondary could use a player like Colbert, provided he returns to his 2017 form. But if the safety fails to stand out in tomorrow’s game, San Francisco will likely move on from their former starting free safety.