The 49ers are poised to make a strong push for the playoffs in 2022, but there are still some major question marks on the table for Kyle Shanahan and Co.
No team is perfect heading into any given ramp-up period ahead of the regular season, and the San Francisco 49ers certainly aren’t an exception.
The Niners’ finish last year in the NFC Championship game revealed some of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s roster shortcomings and weaknesses, namely with a flamed-out offense that largely went stagnant leading up to the defeat at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams, and those deficiencies were hopefully addressed enough in the early weeks and months of the 2022 offseason.
The hope is, of course, San Francisco will be improved this year, aiming to turn what was a 10-7 finish and surprisingly deep push into the postseason into something more.
However, those hopes don’t remove the fact Shanahan and the 49ers still face some notably big questions as they prepare for the remainder of their offseason workouts, training camp and eventually the regular season.
Particularly these five.
49ers burning question No. 5: Will strong safety be an issue?
The Niners elected not to re-sign veteran strong safety Jaquiski Tartt this offseason, and they also passed up on opportunities to draft a promising replacement, namely the Round 3 defensive-back targets like Illinois’ Kerby Joseph and Maryland’s Nick Cross, both of whom were available when San Francisco was slated to pick at No. 93 overall.
Instead, the 49ers went with running back Tyrion Davis-Price, a surprising selection, and the only “add” they made for this particular spot came after the draft, grabbing Texas A&M safety Leon O’Neal Jr. as an undrafted free agent.
On paper, it appears as if the Niners are going to open up the door for O’Neal to surprise the likely favorites to replace Tartt: George Odum, Talanoa Hufanga and Tarvarius Moore.
Hufanga, the second-year pro, didn’t exactly impress in coverage last season and pegs as more of a special teams contributor, which has been Odum’s calling, too, for the bulk of his career.
Moore, meanwhile, missed all of 2021 with a torn Achilles.
Perhaps this question mark dissipates, especially if Moore winds up finally finding his footing after being drafted in 2018, but it’s still a fair problem to worry about.