49ers position battle No. 4: Safety depth
Like the situation at center, it seems likely the Niners are presenting the best opportunity to second-year pro Talanoa Hufanga to start at strong safety in the wake of the veteran, Jaquiski Tartt, leaving the team via free agency.
However, the remaining depth at both the strong and free safety spots is up for plenty of debate.
Let’s go ahead and assume Hufanga and Jimmie Ward emerge as the starting tandem. We’ll also assume the Niners keep four safeties (or at least defensive backs capable of playing safety), meaning there are essentially two spots left on the depth chart.
One of them is assuredly going to a free-agent pickup, George Odum, who despite taking some lumps during OTAs and minicamp on the defensive side of things, nevertheless has prowess on special teams and will contribute there.
The final spot? That’s hard to gauge.
It could go to the veteran and seemingly always-present Dontae Johnson, who has worked at safety a lot this offseason. Likewise, backup defensive back Tarvarius Moore worked his way back from an Achilles tear last offseason and is in the mix, as well as high-profile undrafted free-agent safety Leon O’Neal Jr.
Considering Ward’s lengthy injury history and Hufanga’s issues in coverage last year, having some backups will be vital this upcoming season, making this battle a must-watch.