Safety is a position the 49ers may or may not need come draft day. It all depends on if Dashon Goldson is re-signed or not. If Goldson becomes a free agent, the 49ers will need to find another free safety to fill his shoes.
This is the deepest safety class in years, and Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas is one of the top safeties in the class. While some may love Thomas, I have grown less fond of him with the more film I've watched. On paper, he has great stats, and you'd think, "Oh man, lets get this guy!."
I'm here to tell you that isn't the case.
Good Blitzer: It would be a bit more important a pro if he was at a different position. He can get in there on safety blitzes at a more than adequate level. He had four sacks this season.
Hard hitter: When Thomas is able to square his target up, he can lay the wood. Four forced fumbles this year.
Good hands/Ballhawk: Thomas had eight interceptions this season. Keep in mind he was playing in the Mountain West Conference though.
Can get into the backfield: Against some less than stellar opponents, Thomas has been able to tackle running backs for a loss (12 TFL on the season).
- Can't read the read option: He almost always goes after the wrong guy, leading to big plays. In the Oregon game he is single-handedly responsible or helps contribute to the Ducks scoring three touchdowns. If he can't handle the speed of Oregon, how is he going to handle the speed in the NFL?
- Missed Tackles: Going along with not handling premier speed, Thomas can't adjust to it and tackle. In the Oregon video he either misses every tackle by not being able to wrap up, or he's out of position and an Oregon player runs right by him.
- Takes bad angles in pursuit: What's the point of a player's speed if they can't utilize it correctly? Running sideline to sideline, he takes really bad angles and by the time he gets to the player with the ball (if he even does) it had already been a big gain.
- Bad Instincts: In coverage he is a bit hesitant at times and he's going to get killed in the NFL. When he's in man tight ends are going to make his head spin and more times than not gain separation for an easy catch. When he is playing zone he gives the receiver way too much room. At the next level, quarterbacks will recognize they have an easy play and fire that ball in there.
- Doesn't contain the edge well: In the Oregon video, watch how many times he is blocked and can't shed his block. His job is to maintain the edge and make sure that a big play doesn't happen. He puts himself in a position where he is easily blocked and cannot get to the ball carrier or receiver time after time.
Why He Might Fit The 49ers:
He hits hard. Besides that I can't really see a "fit". The only fit I feel is he's a decent special teams player, but the 49ers aren't looking for specialist in the first few rounds.
Why He Might Not Fit The 49ers:
The 49ers want a safety who is aggressive but also can cover. I don't think Thomas channels his aggressiveness well, he gives up big plays in the run game and pass game by being out of position and being fooled. I don't think he's smart enough quite frankly, the other ten players on defense would get frustrated with him really fast with mental lapses and being out of position.
What They Are Saying:
- nepatriotsdraft.com believes he's a top three safety in this years draft class, and a top fifty pick overall.
- Rob Rang, of cbssports.com thinks Thomas compares similarly to Titans safety Michael Griffin:
" Like Griffin, Thomas boasts an impressive combination of size, athleticism and playmaking ability."
- Check out all of his stats at cfbstats.com
I'm not much of a gambler unless I think I'm going to win for sure (still regretting not putting money on the 49ers vs. Jets this season), but I'd bet almost anything you don't see the 49ers drafting Phillip Thomas. Thomas has too many question marks and too many holes in his play that need patching up. He'd be a clear downgrade from Dashon, and the 49ers are always looking to improve. Thomas would not be an improvement.