These five 49ers veterans need to outperform the competition at training camp this year.
The San Francisco 49ers are in a position most other teams around the league would envy: boasting a number of players on the roster bubble who would otherwise likely have key roles on a number of different squads.
The Niners are a Super Bowl-caliber team, yes. And unlike the rebuilding years of 2017 and 2018, there are only a handful of roster spots up for grabs heading into 2020. San Francisco already made moves to part ways with quality players no longer considered to be essential to the team’s immediate and long-term success, such as running back Matt Breida and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who were previously key pieces to the roster yet were traded earlier this offseason to the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.
San Francisco’s 90-man offseason roster is now set. And while there may be a few tweaks here and there between now and the end of preseason, most of the position battles appear to be on the proverbial training camp “fight card” for later this summer.
And that could ultimately mean some veterans and returning pros could see themselves pushed off the roster when the competition is complete.
Here are five players who find themselves on the roster bubble already before camp begins.
No. 5: 49ers Safety Marcell Harris
During his rookie 2018 season, strong safety Marcell Harris put himself into a position where consideration for an eventual starter’s job over the veteran, Jaquiski Tartt, was a possibility.
But that was before Harris was asked to start four games in 2019 when Tartt was out with a ribs injury. While Harris’ run-stopping efforts were good enough, his 59.3 Pro Football Focus pass-coverage grade left more than a lot to be desired. And this isn’t aided by the Niners’ recent defensive adjustments, making both the strong and free safety spots more interchangeable.
Tartt is entering a contract year, and that serves to boost Harris’ chances to stick around beyond 2020.
At the same time, the 49ers made former Alabama safety Jared Mayden a priority undrafted free-agent signing, and there’s a good chance Mayden pushes Harris for the immediate No. 2 role behind Tartt this season.
San Francisco isn’t likely to keep both Mayden and Harris on the 53-man roster, meaning the latter could be in danger of missing out.