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Adrian Colbert set to make his first free safety start for 49ers

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The 49ers injuries have another rookie getting serious playing time.

The San Francisco 49ers have dealt with all sorts of injuries this year, and it has shown in the product. That being said, the upside to this is that in a rebuilding year, rookies and second year players are getting a lot of big opportunities.

The latest to join this group is free safety Adrian Colbert. The 49ers spent a seventh round pick on the college cornerback. He started getting some safety work in training camp, and quickly become a versatile reserve. After Jaquiski Tartt broke his arm last week, Colbert took over as the free safety next to Eric Reid. This weekend, Colbert will continue in the role, making his first career NFL start.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh met with the media on Thursday, and Chris Biderman asked him about Colbert and what he brings to the table. Saleh said he loves Colbert’s range. He sees him as a guy who can go “red line to red line” and track very well in space. We saw that last week when he closed quickly on a pass to the end zone and broke it up.

Saleh said Colbert needs to work on improving his mental speed. He said Colbert could be a “great safety” once he improves in that area. He sees Colbert as a guy with great physical attributes, and his speed as a former corner can add to it.

This weekend will be a big challenge for Colbert and the defense. The New York Giants have had their struggles, but Eli Manning can still be a dangerous cornerback quarterback. I have no doubt the Giants offense is game-planning to attack Colbert early and often in that center field role. Colbert is off to a solid enough start, but the more challenges he can face these final seven weeks, the better for figuring out what he means to the 2018 49ers.