The San Francisco 49ers secondary has been overhauled over the past two years, with Richard Sherman the notable addition this year. He is expected to start opposite Ahkello Witherspoon, with Jimmie Ward potentially serving as the first cornerback off the bench.
However, injuries have sidelined both Sherman and Ward during the offseason workout program. While both are expected back for training camp, their absences in May and June have opened the door for cornerback Tyvis Powell to get some opportunities. He has split first team snaps with rookie Tarvarus McFadden opposite Witherspoon.
The 49ers originally added Powell last November 1st, signing him to the practice squad. He was promoted to the 53-man roster on December 16th. In three games, he played 17 defensive snaps and 53 special teams snaps. He played all 17 of his defensive snaps in Week 16 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Greg Mabin was inactive with a calf injury, and Dontae Johnson was benched at one point.
Powell entered the NFL in 2016, signing as an undrafted free agent with the Seattle Seahawks. He appeared in eight games in 2016, registering three tackles on special teams. Seattle waived him after the season. He spent time on the Browns and Colts rosters last offseason. An injury put him on IR on September 3rd, but he was released from IR on September 12th. He signed with the Seahawks practice squad on September 19th, and was released from their practice squad on October 24th.
Experience: 1 accrued season
Weight: 211 pounds
He was promoted from the practice squad last December, with a two-year contract through the 2018 season. He is due a base salary (and cap hit) of $630,000 if he makes the 53-man roster.
What to expect in 2018
He spent five weeks on the 49ers practice squad, and then three weeks on the 53-man roster. He has a full offseason to continue learning Robert Saleh’s defense, and work on his technique with defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley, and his assistant coach Daniel Bullocks. He’s got the kind of size and length that bodes well in this kind of press coverage. He is highly unlikely to earn a starting role, but if he made the roster, I could see him pushing K’Waun Williams and Jimmie Ward for the first and second cornerbacks off the bench.
Odds of making the roster
This is a tough one for me. The offseason workout program afforded him a huge opportunity to impress in work with the 1s. Once training camp gets here and Richard Sherman and Jimmie Ward are healthy, we’ll find out what they really think of Powell. Aside from those two, he’s competing with K’Waun Williams, Greg Mabin, Tarvarus McFadden, D.J. Reed, and others for potentially no more than two roster spots. The 49ers don’t know exactly what they have at the position, but a trade or two among the cornerbacks would not surprise me at all. They have a lot of potential amongst a group committing for few spots.
For now I’ll say Powell does not make the roster unless there is a trade or two, a lengthy injury, or something else I cannot really foresee at this point. Powell has a shot, but he needs some things to break his way.