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D.J. Reed has shot to claim 49ers starting free safety role

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Maybe change is afoot?

The San Francisco 49ers have opened the door to a potential change at the free safety position. Head coach Kyle Shanahan would not make a firm commitment on the position, but he left open the possibility of a change.

Adrian Colbert suffered a hip injury in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs. He sat out Wednesday practice the next week, and then was listed as limited on Thursday and Friday. Limited usually means a player takes part in warmups and individual drills, but not team drills (although that is not always the case).

This past Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, Colbert played exclusively on special teams, while D.J. Reed started at free safety. After the game, Shanahan offered this explanation as to why Reed started over Colbert.

“Just because [DB Adrian] Colbert didn’t practice much throughout the week, was limited throughout the week and had to take some of his reps off, which he didn’t get many of at all. We wanted to go with the healthier guy.”

Shanahan said Colbert was the backup for Reed, and was physically ready to go. The coaching staff felt Colbert didn’t get enough reps this week to be fully prepared for the Chargers offense.

On Monday, Shanahan left the door open for a change at some point. He was complimentary of Reed, saying he did a good job and was improved from the previous week. He said he thinks Reed will, “continue to get better with more reps.” Naturally this begged the question that followed in which Shanahan was asked if he anticipated Reed holding onto the starting job.

“I think [DB Adrian] Colbert will be healthier this week, which will give Colbert a much better chance to get his spot back. We’re one day into this. We’ll see by Wednesday how much better he is. But, I expect Colbert to get out there eventually, but D.J. got his opportunity because of health reasons. Sometimes all a guy needs is an opportunity. We’ll see how this week goes.”

The 49ers return to practice on Wednesday, and we’ll get the first practice participation report later in the afternoon. If Colbert is listed as limited, that could mean a change is in the offing for at least another week. I would not expect Shanahan to announce a starter at this point, nor would defensive coordinator Robert Saleh likely say on Thursday. More than likely, barring something drastic, we’ll have to wait until Sunday for final word on who is starting at free safety.