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Adrian Colbert is a wrench in 49ers safety plans, but a good one

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The 49ers have kind of a mess at the safety position, but not in the worst way.

New York Giants v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have a complicated situation at the safety position, and it’s getting more complicated by the day. That’s not entirely a bad thing, as their recent complications stem from the high-level play of rookie Adrian Colbert. Team general manager John Lynch was particularly complimentary of Colbert, the first safety he’s drafted as an NFL executive, on Tuesday.

Asked if Colbert causes him to reconsider the future of the safety position, Lynch was glowing in his response.

“Shoot, he keeps playing like he did last week, you consider a lot of things,” Lynch said.

Lynch also said that he didn’t want Colbert to get a big head, but that he played a “really, really good football game.” And he did — Colbert was all over the field and made several big plays from the free safety position.

That’s the same position where Eric Reid was the starter a season ago. Reid, a high-level safety himself, was moved over to strong safety so Jimmie Ward, then stuck in a nickel hybrid role, could move to the free safety spot. But with Reid on an expiring contract, many wanted to see what Jaquiski Tartt could do.

Then injuries started happening, and for a brief moment when all three of those guys were healthy, the 49ers moved Reid to linebacker, Tartt to strong safety and Ward at free safety. Then injuries started mounting, Reid played more strong safety and Colbert, a seventh-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, was inserted into the starting lineup.

“He displayed some things in that game that are characteristic of a starter and a big-time starter,” Lynch said.

Reid’s contract expires at the end of the season. With Tartt under contract and Ward slowly earning the “injury prone” label, the 49ers might just have big plans for Colbert as a starter going forward.