49ers training camp: How these 5 fringe players make 53-man roster

Tight end Ross Dwelley #82 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Tight end Ross Dwelley #82 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Johnathan Cyprien, Tennessee Titans
Johnathan Cyprien #37 of the Tennessee Titans (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

No. 3: Johnathan Cyprien beats out Marcell Harris for 49ers’ No. 2 strong safety

Last year revealed why having quality backups is important for a Super Bowl-caliber squad. Yet one of the issues the Niners dealt with was losing starting strong safety Jaquiski Tartt for four weeks with a ribs injury, thrusting backup defensive back Marcell Harris into a starting role during that stretch.

Harris was more than adequate against the run, but he was a notable liability against the pass. Keep in mind, he was primarily responsible for those two early touchdowns allowed to the New Orleans Saints in Week 14.

True, Harris has shown some improvement with his pass coverage in training camp, and that’s a good thing. Yet San Francisco also added another solid reserve, inking former Tennessee Titans safety Johnathan Cyprien to a one-year deal.

Cyprien could be nothing more than a camp body, yes. But like Harris, Cyprien has also shown some key playmaking abilities in training camp, too. And one could make the argument the former second-round NFL Draft pick has far more upside to his game than Harris.

If Cyprien beats out Harris, that’s one thing. Considering Tartt is entering a contract year and is poised to hit free agency in 2021, it’s also possible the 49ers are auditioning Cyprien to potentially take over for Tartt on a much cheaper re-sign contract a little less than a year from now.