One of the 49ers’ crop of undrafted free agents in 2022, safety Tayler Hawkins, has an awfully long shot of making the 53-man roster but might be a stash player instead.
Former San Diego State safety Tayler Hawkins had to be frustrated at not hearing his name called over the course of all three days of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Not long after the draft concluded, though, Hawkins’ camp had to be relieved when the San Francisco 49ers called, making him an offer as one of their 14 undrafted free agents to join the squad this season.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound defensive back might have a long way to go to make the Niners’ 53-man roster in year one. Yet there is a good deal of fluidity within San Francisco’s secondary, giving him a chance to hang around beyond just an offseason body present for training camp.
|*2017||San Diego State||MWC||SO||CB||4||3||2||5||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|*2018||San Diego State||MWC||SO||CB||12||19||16||35||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||5||0||0|
|*2019||San Diego State||MWC||JR||CB||9||18||12||30||3.0||0.0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|2020||San Diego State||MWC||SR||S||8||24||13||37||0.0||0.0||1||0||0.0||0||3||0||0|
|*2021||San Diego State||MWC||SR||CB||13||48||14||62||1.0||0.0||2||34||17.0||0||10||0||1|
|Career||San Diego State||112||57||169||5.0||0.0||3||34||11.3||0||18||0||1|
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference
Undrafted small-school players still face an arduous road, though, yet Hawkins finished his collegiate career on a strong note, registering two interceptions and a forced fumble.
Let’s take a look at what else he has to do to stick around, however.
Why Tayler Hawkins finds his footing with 49ers in 2022
Having ran a 4.53 40-yard time at his pro day, it’s likely Hawkins is either going to find himself playing corner in a zone-style offense or as a safety with the action in front of him.
That was one of the suggestions on this particular scouting report, which does tout his football IQ and ability to react well to plays around him.
Yet the biggest asset might be the opportunity, as the 49ers’ situation at safety is far from determined in the wake of the veteran, Jaquiski Tartt, leaving the team via free agency.
For now, second-year pro Talanoa Hufanga appears to be the favorite to take over this starting job, but Hawkins could impress enough to secure one of those backup roles.
Why Taylor Hawkins flames out with 49ers in 2022
That same scouting report suggesting tackling can be a problem for Hawkins, as well as his angles to would-be receivers and ball-carriers.
We already saw some of this from mandatory minicamp, when Hawkins was beat in coverage alongside another undrafted safety trying to make the cut, Leon O’Neal Jr.
Those early gaffes won’t bode well for his roster chances, and the sheer number of bodies around him on the depth chart presents challenges, too.
Chances of Tayler Hawkins making 49ers’ 53-man roster
In addition to O’Neal and Hufanga, Hawkins will be looking at a safety depth chart featuring plenty of others who could steal a roster spot, such as Tarvarius Moore, Dontae Johnson and George Odum.
Odum’s hefty contract points to him sticking around, while Hufanga is pretty much locked in, too.
Assuming the Niners keep four safeties on the 53-man roster — Hufanga, Odum and free safety Jimmie Ward — there’s likely room for only one player between Moore, O’Neal and Hawkins. Arguably Johnson as well, although both he and Moore can double as cornerbacks.
What’ll likely be the case is Hawkins getting some second-half game time in during the preseason, and at best, he finds himself named to the practice squad after being waived once the exhibition period comes to a close.