SF 49ers: 5 smart decisions Kyle Shanahan made with 53-man roster

Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Marcell Harris, 49ers
Marcell Harris #36 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

No. 2: SF 49ers Going with Marcell Harris over Johnathan Cyprien

There was a real chance veteran strong safety Johnathan Cyprien would unseat the incumbent backup to Jaquiski Tartt, Marcell Harris, once training camp was over. After all, Harris struggled mightily in pass coverage last season over four starts in Tartt’s stead and wasn’t exactly inspiring a lot of confidence in his immediate future with San Francisco.

Cyprien, a former second-round pick, had dealt with injuries as of late. But he impressed in camp, regularly registering interceptions and establishing a veteran presence within the secondary.

But Harris also improved, too, adding his own picks and showing a noticeable difference in his pass-coverage prowess compared to 2019.

While Kyle Shanahan has never shied away from trying to improve, the decision to go with Harris over Cyprien shows some loyalty to players the 49ers have developed. Plus, Harris is both younger and would remain under team control for at least two more seasons, helping guarantee further continuity.

And if one understands the reality many young defensive backs tend to struggle transitioning to the pro ranks, especially in pass coverage, it’s understandable to grant some extra time for a player like Harris to develop.

If anything, it seems as if he benefited from the additional competition from Cyprien anyway.