49ers training camp: 1 key battle to watch at each position
By Peter Panacy
49ers training camp battle: Primary backup at strong safety
Both starting safeties, Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt, come with a pretty lengthy injury history. The last two years, however, Ward has proven to be a bit more durable with Tartt, who missed four games in 2019 with a ribs injury and then landed on season-ending injured reserve last season with turf toe, sidelining him for all but seven games.
The Niners made some substantial changes to their depth chart at safety during the offseason, prompting more competition with returnees like Tarvarius Moore and Marcell Harris by adding veterans Tony Jefferson and Tavon Wilson, while also using a fifth-round NFL Draft pick on Talanoa Hufanga.
Now, with Moore sidelined indefinitely with an Achilles tear, the camp battle to back up Tartt looks to fall between Harris, Jefferson, Wilson and Hufanga.
San Francisco doesn’t deploy too many single-high safety looks anymore, and Ward has often been used as a nickel defensive back lately, meaning Tartt’s importance to the defense shouldn’t be understated.
Same with the need to boast an adequate reserve, which both Moore and Harris struggled to do the last two years.
Two of those four reserve competitors aren’t likely to make the 53-man roster, so whoever winds up showing off the most during 49ers training camp will have to earn the role in a big way.