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What the 49ers 2016 NFL Draft results mean for the safety depth chart

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The San Francisco 49ers added one UDFA safety this offseason. What's next for the 49ers safety depth chart?

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The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their rookie minicamp this past weekend, and players now have the week off. With OTAs getting started in two weeks, now seems like a good time to start assessing what the 2016 NFL Draft means to the roster. We're going to run through each position on the depth chart and take a preliminary look at how the draft picks might impact it, as well as an initial thought on the bubble watch. Today, we move on to the safeties.


Eric Reid, Antoine Bethea, Jaquiski Tartt, Jimmie Ward, L.J. McCray, Jered Bell

The San Francisco 49ers signed Jered Bell as an undrafted free agent, but otherwise did not add any new safeties to the depth chart. Instead, the big topic is the transition of Jimmie Ward to the safety position. Trent Baalke mentioned this after the team selected potential nickel back Will Redmond in the third round, but he did not get into specifics as to a timeline. After the team drafted Ward, Baalke focused on his potential as a nickel back, but also said he would learn the safety position.

The 49ers picked up Eric Reid's fifth year option last week, which means they can control his rights through 2017. Of course, the option is also not fully guaranteed until next March. I don't see Reid going anywhere, but Ward's eventual transition to safety would seem to raise some questions about who moves where in this jigsaw puzzle. Some have suggested Jaquiski Tartt could move to inside linebacker, but a hybrid role makes a little more sense at this point.

Bubble watch

I didn't mention Antoine Bethea in the paragraph above because I think the bubble is a more apt discussion. His future could depend in part on how ready Will Redmond is at the start of training camp. I don't think the team will just shuffle Ward to safety and Redmond to nickel back, and that's that, but it's something that has to at least be on our radar.

If I had to make a prediction, I'd say Week 1 we see Ward as the nickel back, Bethea as the strong safety, and Tartt getting significant reps in nickel and dime packages. McCray seems likely to remain focused on special teams. He'll get some preseason snaps on defense, but I don't expect to see him playing defense during the regular season unless there are notable injuries.

Just for the heck of it, I've included a poll regarding Antoine Bethea. I continue to think a trade is a possibility, but there are a lot of things that could happen in the coming months. So, the poll is basically asking if you think he'll be released or traded before the season starts, or traded at some point during the season.