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Safety depth leaves some room for UDFAs

The 49ers safety depth chart awaits some returning players. It opens the door for Terrell Williams and Corey Griffin.

The San Francisco 49ers have signed 14 undrafted free agents since the 2018 NFL Draft came to a close. We could see some more UDFAs swapped in before training camp, but for the most part we know what the UDFA class looks like.

Over the next two and a half months, through the end of training camp, we’ll be trying to figure out which of the UDFAs might surprise us and grab a roster spot. There are fewer opportunities available this year, but there is a decent chance at least one of the UDFAs ends up snagging a roster spot.

We started with quarterback Jack Heneghan, moved on to running back Jeff Wilson, and then UDFA wide receiver Steven Dunbar and seventh round pick wide receiver Richie James. Most recently we looked at the offensive line, and then the defensive line. On Sunday, we looked at the cornerbacks, and today we wrap it up with the 49ers additions of UDFA safeties Corey Griffin and Terrell Williams.

The 49ers are going young at the safety positions, moving Jimmie Ward to cornerback, and appearing to not push too hard to re-sign Eric Reid. The plan is to have Adrian Colbert start at free safety and Jaquiski Tartt start at strong safety. The team signed Tartt to a two-year extension this offseason, and then spent a sixth round pick on Marcell Harris in the 2018 NFL Draft. They also drafted safety Tarvarius Moore, but are moving him to cornerback. Most recently, they signed Antone Exum to fill out the roster heading into training camp.

Colbert and Tartt seem pretty locked in at the two safety positions. Exum was added in part because the team was short-handed due to 2017 injuries and subsequent rehab for several players. Returning safeties Don Jones and Chanceller James both suffered torn ACLs last summer, and should be good to at the start of training camp, or shortly thereafter. Marcell Harris tore his Achilles last summer in college, and is also expected to be back for the start of training camp.

Matt Barrows recently put together a defensive depth chart following OTAs and heading into minicamp. He had Griffin listed at free safety and Williams listed at strong safety. Griffin primarily played strong safety at Georgia Tech, while Williams seems like a guy with a little more versatility.

Prior to minicamp, Barrows was asked which UDFA has stood out, and he pointed to Williams:

One of the undrafted players who has looked good is strong safety Terrell Williams from Houston. He had an interception in Tuesday’s red-zone drill while playing with the second-team defense against the second-team offense. Of course, Williams might not be with the second team next month when Marcell Harris, Don Jones and Chanceller James return from injury.

A lot of young players have benefited from absences further up the depth chart. Plenty will change when late July arrives, but it’s looking like a tough climb for Williams and Griffin. James seemed to be making progress toward a roster spot before his torn ACL, while Jones brings extensive special teams work to the competition. Williams and Griffin’s best chance of earning a roster spot is standing out on special teams. The safety depth chart is not super deep at the moment, but with injured players returning, it is only going to get deeper for training camp.