49ers NFL Draft: 5 safety prospects San Francisco would love

Leon O'Neal Jr. #9 of the Texas A&M Aggies (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Leon O'Neal Jr. #9 of the Texas A&M Aggies (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Kerby Joseph, Illinois Fightin' Illini
Illinois defensive back Kerby Joseph (25) Mandatory Credit: Imagn Images /

Safety. Kerby Joseph. 807. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Illinois. 2. player

49ers safety prospect No. 2: Kerby Joseph, Illinois

While the 49ers may view someone like Jalen Pitre as a nickel cornerback, going after someone like Illinois safety Kerby Joseph would afford them the opportunity to move other pieces around the defensive backfield at will.

Joseph, 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, had himself quite the notable season for the Fighting Illini last year, breaking out with five interceptions, two passes broken up and two fumble recoveries after being relatively quiet the three years prior.

Essentially only a one-year starter, Joseph will have some growing pains, and he doesn’t project as much as a strong safety closer to the line of scrimmage.

Read More: 5 draft prospects who could be Day 1 starters for 49ers

However, should the Niners feel comfortable with someone like Joseph patrolling the back end of the defense, they could move Jimmie Ward down towards the strong safety spot or potentially into a role where he helps out over the slot, elements he performed at times the last two seasons.

Like Pitre, Joseph is probably going to be a safe bet for Round 2 in the draft, and San Francisco might prefer him over Pitre if it’s solely looking for some changes at free safety.