Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in–90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we’ll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we’ll have more than one so it’s not strictly one per day but Fooch is a crazy person who manages this blog with no rhyme or reason and it’s worked so far. Who am I to argue?
The San Francisco 49ers appear fairly set at safety, and added some depth in the draft with the selection of Jaquiski Tartt. The team added another defensive back after the draft, signing Jermaine Whitehead as an undrafted free agent. Whitehead arrived from Auburn, where he finished his career with six interceptions in his senior season, including one returned for a touchdown.
Whitehead only played in nine games as a senior. He was suspended four games for a verbal altercation with his safeties coach. He took responsibility and seemed to understand he was in the wrong for the incident. Ideally this is a one-time issue, but it likely impacted his draft stock.
He stands 5'11 and weighs 193 pounds. That is not ideal size, but it's not exactly the smallest out there. His time at Auburn afforded him the opportunity to play a variety of roles, including nickel back, run supporting safety, and more of a centerfield role. His versatility is useful as he tries to earn a sport on the roster, or at least on the practice squad. Here are a couple scouting reports about Whitehead:
What to expect in 2015
The safety depth chart is fairly deep at this point, so if Whitehead did somehow manage to make the roster, he would be primarily a special teams player. In reality though, the practice squad is Whitehead's best opportunity to stick with the 49ers. His versatility and size sort of remind me of one-time 49ers practice squad player Michael Thomas. He stood a shade under 5'10 and weighed 185 pounds, while Whitehead is 5'11 even, and weighs 197 pounds. I think the versatility is more of the common denominator, and I think it could be something the 49ers would look to develop a little further.
Odds of making the roster
They are very slim. Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea are on top of the safety depth chart. Craig Dahl is currently the primary backup, with Jimmie Ward potentially able to move over there from nickel back, and Jaquiski Tartt a new addition to the roster. L.J. McCray played almost exclusively on special teams last season, and it remains to be seen what his best opportunity will be in 2015. Whitehead's best shot at a roster spot might be beating out McCray.