49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio spoke to media on Tuesday, updating the world on San Francisco's defense thus far. The NFL is halfway through training camp as the third week of exhibition games are set to take place this week. The 49ers are still solidifying areas on their football team, particularly in terms of depth.
They are set on the majority of the roster, but it's those like six or seven players that are really going to make this difficult. The Niners, like all NFL teams, do face league-sanctioned cutdown days on on August 28 (80-man) and August 31 (53-man). As of today, the first official cutdown day is in less than a week and the 49ers are still undecided in certain areas.
In an interesting turn during pressers today, Fangio suggested the possibility of carrying up to five safeties.
There are some jobs that are up for grabs in the backup area and we'd like to see somebody step forward and make the decisions easy for us. You know, particularly at the safety position, you know we've got [Donte] Whitner and [Dashon] Goldson, but we're looking to see who's our third, fourth and possibly fifth safety. We need for that to clear itself up and hopefully guys will step forward and make it easy. Right now, it hasn't been an easy decision for us.
Competing for the depth at safety, Fangio mentioned:
I wonder if Fangio alluded to the competition being wide open as to provide a spark. He seemed willing to talk about where there was still a verdict to be made. Either the 49ers defensive staff hasn't seen enough or everyone is breaking even and there is no clear cut player deserving over another. It seemed like Fangio wanted to see results and for someone to edge ahead.
Although he did not mention C.J. Spillman, he was a special teams stud in 2011 and is certainly worth a roster spot for that reason. The others: McBath, Robinson, Thomas and Jones, are all neck-and-neck. Michigan State's Trenton Robinson could be the favorite as an instinctual, developmental safety with high potential.
The possibility of a fifth safety suggests Michael Thomas is too valuable to risk losing on the practice squad. Or that Colin Jones is more than just a special teams ace. The late addition of Darcel McBath is also a mystery thus far. In the remaining two exhibition match-ups, look for which defensive back is making plays late in the game.