After the rookie minicamp wrapped up on Sunday, Matt Barrows posted a column about a few of the upcoming training camp position battles. For the most part it wasn't too shocking, but there was a throw-away line that I found particularly interesting. In the paragraph about the strong safety competition, Barrows mentioned this at the end:
Subplot: Undrafted Chris Maragos will push Reggie Smith for the backup job at free safety.
I suppose pondering the battle for backup free safety is a sign of the offseason, but I still think is an interesting topic (and it's not another Alex Smith discussion!). Reggie Smith has had a rather shaky time in San Francisco thus far. I'd call it up and down, but I can't think of any particular ups for him at this point. Smith spent a lot of time in college as a corner, but the move to safety was not particularly surprising. However, it hasn't led to much success.
He's definitely the type of player that represents the reason for waiting several years before assessing a draft pick. He had an injury-filled first season, and then was officially converted to safety prior to last season. While he hasn't made much of an impact on defense, he's still got some time to figure things out.
Which brings us to his 2010 competition: Chris Maragos (after the jump)...
It can sometimes be a pain in the butt finding info on undrafted free agents. Fortunately Maragos went to a big time school (Wisconsin), which leads to a bit more information. In fact, over at National Football Post, they put together a scouting report on Maragos, ranking him 21st among free safeties:
Maragos reads and reacts quickly to the play and is aggressive when asked to attack the line of scrimmage. He exhibits below-average closing speed in pursuit and struggles to keep himself clean in traffic. Lacks physicality as a tackler and struggles breaking down in space when asked to wrap up in the hole. Lacking the base to generate much power from his lower half, he doesn't exhibit proper technique. Is stiff in his back-pedal and struggles flipping his hips and getting out of his breaks in coverage. Plays at one speed and lacks any kind of second gear to his game. He fails to make plays sideline to sideline. But he possesses good instincts and ball skills when asked to go up and make a play on the football.
Is there really a chance that Reggie Smith could lose out a battle to Maragos? Clearly Maragos is battling for a playoff spot, and based on the roster additions, Reggie Smith would seem to be his #1 competition. But given that Maragos came in off the street, is there any reason to get particularly excited about this? There are a lot of things to be excited about in the upcoming preseason, and until recently, Smith was a guy I included high up on the list.
However, the addition of Taylor Mays and the emergence (thus far) of Dashon Goldson would seem to indicate Reggie Smith is not going to be much more than a backup for the foreseeable future. At the same time, I would imagine he's still got a significant advantage over Maragos. Does anybody else think otherwise?