The San Francisco 49ers released their depth chart earlier this week, and cornerback Marcus Cromartie is listed as a backup safety, behind Eric Reid and ahead of L.J. McCray. In training camp, another player has been getting some work at safety. Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil told the media that Kenneth Acker is cross-training at the safety position.
Someone asked why other cornerbacks have passed Acker on the depth chart, and what Acker needs to do to move back up. O’Neil offered praise for him in response:
“He’s done a really good job. I know we’ve got to submit the depth chart and the media probably looks more into that than we do as a coaching staff right now. But, Kenny’s doing a good job for us at corner. We’re also cross-training him at safety. He’s had a great attitude every day. So, I’m not down at him at all. He’s competing, and he’s competing for a spot on this team. He knows that.”
The follow-up question was what it takes to cross-train at safety, and what skills the team looks for in the players.
“We look for versatility. You only get so many up on game day. If you get multiple injuries in a position, you need some guys that can go help out. I mean, he’s not the only one we’re cross-training. [CB] Dontae Johnson, we’re cross-training [CB] Chris Davis. We’ve got a lot of guys that are playing corner-safety for us right now.”
The 49ers have a lot of options at cornerback right now, and the draft showed the team was prepared to move forward from some of their veterans. Acker is not the first veteran to try a new position to earn a roster spot. We see Bruce Miller moving from fullback to tight end, and we’ve seen plenty others in the past.
Acker was starting for much of last season, but Dontae Johnson moved ahead of him late in the season. Acker finds himself on the bubble for the time being. This weekend’s secondary rotation will give us some insight into where things stand with that group.