The 49ers are down two of their veteran safeties because of injury, meaning there are some tweaks to be made to the depth chart.
For the most part, the San Francisco 49ers have been fortunate when it comes to debilitating injuries this season, although it's fair to assume that most Niners fans are grimacing with anticipation toward the inevitable large rash of injuries that seemingly strikes each and every year.
That rash did bite San Francisco a bit harder over the last two weeks, though, as two of the team's better safeties, Talanoa Hufanga and George Odum, were both lost to serious injuries in back-to-back respective weeks.
With Hufanga out, the 49ers were forced to start rookie Ji'Ayir Brown alongside veteran safety Tashaun Gipson, while Odum's absence primarily impacts special teams and depth. Although, per reports from NFL Network, Odum could potentially return late in the playoffs if he has a speedy recovery.
49ers to sign free-agent safety, likely calling up another from practice squad
According to a report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport late Monday, the Niners are going to ink former Atlanta Falcons veteran safety Erik Harris to the practice squad:
Harris, 33 years old, spent the last two seasons with Atlanta and also has starting tenure with both the Las Vegas Raiders.
Prior to Harris, the only other safety San Francisco had on its practice squad was second-year pro Tayler Hawkins, who impressed last preseason but couldn't quite carve out a role on the 53-man roster.
With two spots effectively open, Hawkins likely gets a promotion now.
49ers' updated depth chart at safety
- Tashaun Gipson
- Ji'Ayir Brown
- Erik Harris
- Tayler Hawkins
Brown has been solid enough over the last two weeks, and there's no reason to shake up his budding chemistry alongside Gipson.
The 49ers did use their top pick in this year's NFL Draft on Brown for a reason, after all, and he's beginning to reward them for that investment already.
Harris, the veteran, is likely more important to the depth chart as a gameday elevation, potentially getting a full-time promotion after a couple of weeks, provided the current "audition" with the Niners goes well.
Hawkins, meanwhile, has the most to gain long term but still might be the odd one out in the interim, as experienced depth tends to be more important that developmental pieces.