49ers must-have NFL Draft prospect No. 1: S Nick Cross, Maryland
San Francisco can arguably get by without a pass-rusher to pair with Nick Bosa, as it pretty much had B-list players in that role a year ago but still finished with 48 sacks nevertheless. And it might be willing and able to avoid reinforcements at cornerback and the offensive line, too.
However, in the wake of not re-signing strong safety Jaquiski Tartt when his contract expired this offseason, there’s a glaring hole at that spot of the field.
And, no, defensive backs Talanoa Hufanga and Tarvarius Moore shouldn’t be eyed as full-time replacements there.
One player who’d be a slam-dunk pick at No. 61 overall, if available, is Maryland safety Nick Cross, a playmaking defensive back with the right combination of size and speed.
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference
In terms of physical ability, Cross could easily play an in-the-box strong-side role, however his best fit might actually be atop the defense as a free safety. Should the 49ers be entertained by this, selecting Cross would afford them the opportunity to move veteran defensive back Jimmie Ward down closer to the line of scrimmage, which might be a smart move with him getting up there in age, thereby allowing Cross to use his ranginess to play deep as a single-high option.
Taking this approach would certainly help the Niners alleviate Tartt’s departure while also landing a player who projects to have a lot more playmaking impact over the course of his career.