As the playoffs went on and into the Super Bowl, the 49ers safeties seemed to be exposed more and more. While they generally played well throughout the season, Dashon Goldson is also looking at potentially facing free agency, and there isn't much inspiring depth behind him or Donte Whitner.
The 49ers very well could look for the future of the safety position in this year's NFL Draft. If they consider taking a player early-on, they'd need him to have cover skills, range, tackling ability, the entire package. One such player in my mind is Florida International's Jonathan Cyprien.
- Great range in the back end, coming across the field to make plays on the receiver and/or ball.
- Ferocious hitter who loves to make receivers think twice about going over the middle.
- Great closing speed on plays in front of him, ie. on throws in front in zone coverage.
- Willing to stick his nose in the run game.
- Has great size at just over 6' tall and 210lbs.
- Great awareness/instincts when he can see the play develop, ie. screen passes.
- Can get washed out by bigger players in pursuit.
- Not the best form tackler. Likes to launch and/or go high at times.
- Will get penalized for some of his hits high and to defenseless receivers.
- Occasionally gets caught with his eyes in the backfield.
Do Your Homework:
Watch him against Louisville (featured below):
Why He Might Fit The 49ers:
He's a rangy safety with great size who's not afraid to help out in the run game. Intimidating hits, often causing turnovers, has been part of the 49ers safety position for a long time. Cyprien is also adept at tracking the ball from center field and can get to the sideline to make a play. He's very instinctive when he can see the play and does a good job in man coverage, when asked, though he plays near the line of scrimmage often as well. Has experience blitzing off the edge, too.
Why He Might Not Fit The 49ers:
Cyprien fits in the mold of Goldson and Whitner, in that he likes to blow players up on the tackle. Those hits often draw penalties in the NFL, some extending drives on 3rd down. He's also asked to play near the line of scrimmage a lot, either blitzing or in the run game, which causes him to play run-first at times and take false steps forward even when he's supposed to be in coverage. His height could also become an issue covering taller tight ends.
What They Are Saying:
- Russ Lande of NFP has Cyprien as the 2nd free safety on his board.
- Mike Mayock ranks him as the 3rd best safety in the Draft.
- Josh Norris and Matt Miller both think Cyprien will surely go in the 1st round.
We don't know how the Dashon Goldson scenario will play out, but it's rumored that the team won't franchise tag him. If that's the case he's sure to get offers for long-term deals elsewhere. Donte Whitner just isn't great in coverage, even against TEs. Depending on how serious the 49ers are, they could look at Cyprien with the 31st pick if he's the best player on their board at the time. He certainly has the skill-set to be a starting safety in the NFL, possibly even as a rookie.
There is a possibility that he falls down draft boards due to the amazing defensive line talent in this draft, too, in which case he could be available in the 2nd round, perhaps requiring a trade-up. I'd be on board with that as well since the 49ers have so many picks and so few starting jobs available. They need quality, and Cyprien certainly fits.