The 49ers have a gaping hole at backup safety this season. We all know Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson are among the NFL's best safety tandems...but if either of them are hurt or otherwise have to miss time...the options behind them are well, uninspiring thus-far.
C.J. Spillman has been an ace special teams player for a few years now and was a vital part of the "Tony Montana Squad" of "LIV'rs". However his time on defense was limited to goal-line packages where he was called-upon for his tackling skills. The coaches have tried to usher him in as the third safety, but Vic Fangio said yesterday that Spillman "has to get better."
While the team drafted Trenton Robinson in the sixth round this off-season, early reports are that he's got a ways to go. We all know that safety is a difficult position to learn for young players. It's rumored that it takes two-to-three years to be effective at that spot...unless you're Eric Berry or a 22 year old version of Ed Reed.
Michael Thomas is a Stanford product and described as a smart football player by Fangio...but as an undrafted free-agent he would seem a long-shot to make the team unless he has excellent special teams value.
Colin Jones was good on special teams last year but hasn't seen much time as an actual safety and spent time on the scout-team as a wide receiver last year...not a good sign that he's ready to be a big-time backup.
That brings us to a newcomer this year in Darcel McBath. I admit I didn't even know McBath was a NFL veteran until just the other day. He was signed before training camp commenced, and I assumed he was a rookie free agent. I was probably brewing beer that day or something...
More after the jump.
McBath is actually in his fourth season (if he makes a team) in the NFL. He was a second-round draft pick by the Denver Broncos and played two seasons there (seeing action in 20 games) with current DB coach Ed Donatell.
During his rookie season (2009) in Denver he had two interceptions before breaking his forearm and being placed on injured reserve. He started a game in the 2010 season but overall only saw action in seven games before being waived prior to the start of the 2011 season.
He was picked-up by the Jacksonville Jaguars very late in the 2011 season where he did what most players not-named-MJD do there: faded into obscurity. He was released by Jacksonville this year on April 23 after seeing action in just one game.
Following the trend of signing guys who didn't play or play much in 2011, the 49ers picked him up later this off-season, July 23. He would seem to be at a disadvantage having come in late, but his NFL experience should give him a lift as well.
McBath has good size at 6'1" 198lbs. He played some cornerback for the Jaguars, showing some versatility there. His scouting would all seem to point to being a good athlete who had issues deciphering the play early-on. Being back with Donatell and in a locker-room with Whitner and Goldson would only seem to help him improve in the mental aspect of the game.
While we haven't heard his name much, Vic Fangio said yesterday that someone needed to step up and make it more clear who the backup safeties would be. Perhaps McBath can be one of them.