49ers 7-round mock NFL Draft with Super Bowl 56 in the books

Commissioner Roger Goodell (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
Commissioner Roger Goodell (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
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Kerby Joseph, Illinois Fightin' Illini
Illinois defensive back Kerby Joseph (25) Mandatory Credit: Imagn Images /

Kerby Joseph. 93. player. 807. . Safety. Fighting Illini

Round 3, Pick No. 93 Overall: S Kerby Joseph, Illinois

Much like how the Niners have to worry about K’Waun Williams, it’s also highly possible strong safety Jaquiski Tartt departs via NFL free agency this offseason, too.

Tartt no doubt makes San Francisco’s defense better when he’s on the field. But with a lengthy history of injuries, the 49ers have to think about replacing him, either via a top-end backup or someone who can immediately step into a starter’s role.

2021 fifth-round rookie safety Talanoa Hufanga had some splashes, yes. But his straight-line speed and coverage skills were both lacking when he was on defense, and it might be possible to see Hufanga’s use as little more than a big-nickel safety who doubles on special teams. Nothing more.

In that light, going after Illinois safety Kerby Joseph in Round 3 would be an idea.

Joseph doesn’t lack that top-end speed and plays with a Tartt-like physicality, helping him net 41 tackles last season. On top of that, the ballhawking skills are there, too, with Joseph recording an impressive five interceptions last season.

The Niners wouldn’t have to limit Joseph to a strict in-the-box role, either, and Joseph has more than enough flexibility to play both safety spots, too.