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Nick Saban thinks Minkah Fitzpatrick is best as free safety

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The 49ers need cornerbacks more than safeties, but his utility is intriguing.

The San Francisco 49ers have a big need at cornerback, and prior to their December move down the draft board, one name mentioned with some regularity was Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. He started his Alabama career as a nickel back, but has moved all around between cornerback and safety.

His now former head coach, Nick Saban, was at the Senior Bowl this week talking about his now former players. Fitzpatrick left school early, and thus is not in attendance at the Senior Bowl. But Saban offered some thoughts on where he thinks Fitzpatrick is best suited.

The 49ers have depth at safety between Jimmie ward, Jaquiski Tartt, and Adrian Colbert. It remains to be seen if Eric Reid stays or leaves in free agency this year, but even if he does, the team has options. On the other hand, the cornerback has Ahkello Witherspoon, K’Waun Williams, and not much else.

Nick Saban saying Fitzpatrick is best at free safety does not mean that’s what it will be, but there are questions as to how teams will use him. I would be surprised if he slipped to the 49ers at No. 9/10, but if he did, it would give the 49ers defense an additional dynamic presence. It makes for some issues sorting through the safeties, but it also could give them some flexibility to do even more on defense.

The Cleveland Browns are a team with a lot of holes to fill, and that second first round pick gives them a big opportunity alongside the quarterback they inevitably choose. The Browns at No. 4, the Indianapolis Colts at No. 3, the Buccaneers at No. 7, and the Chicago Bears at No. 8 could all easily justify selecting Fitzpatrick.