Harris isn’t going to be the hero you want, well at least right out of the gate. For starters, Harris should concern himself with staying healthy for a full season. He managed to do it in 2018, but his body of work is quite small considering he was out for majority of seasons in 2016 and 2017.
The best we can get out of the Virginia cornerback is some solid special teams work and development at the NFL level. The 49ers cornerback group will have some ample competition for him, so if he’s going to make the roster his first year, special teams is where he’ll need to be.
Experience: third season
He has signed his four-year rookie deal. His cap hit for 2019 is $534,577
How he can improve
The biggest knock on Harris is his health. He played two games in 2016 and one game in 2017. His 2018 was quite solid, for the eight of 13 games he started in, but there’s no telling how he can play in the NFL given how quickly he goes down. This does not go well with the 49ers’ tendencies to get afflicted with the injury bug.
So that’s the first thing: stay healthy. The biggest thing on him to improve is his instinctive behavior. He has some good physical tools, but there’s a lot of work to do for him to match up with NFL pass-catchers.
How he can regress
Getting injured is the big thing. If Harris finds himself on IR yet again, it’s a strong indication of what his NFL career could be. The same arguments could be made for Nick Bosa, but through his injuries, he still managed to make himself a household name. Harris? Not so much.
Then again, with the cornerback group, maybe a year stashed on IR could help him get acclimated to the NFL game. I’d rather seem him at least on a practice squad.
Odds of making the roster
Contrary to popular belief, the 49ers cornerback unit isn’t as awful as initially thought, but it is a big “if.” If Richard Sherman can be at 100 percent, if Ahkello Witherspoon can put it together, if Jason Verrett can stay healthy. I just listed three names there and there’s plenty more behind them.
This will be an interesting training camp to watch, but being the final pick of the 2019 draft (in the sixth round) doesn’t guarantee him a roster spot. This is going to ride on how players like Greg Mabin do in training camp and what Harris can show the staff. He could get stashed on the practice squad for a year, but that’s a rather risky solution for a player you drafted. He’ll need to show special teams value first and foremost.
This will be a difficult climb for him, but if he can beat out Mabin, he may make it on the roster as their final cornerback. Regardless, he’s got a lot of competition in front of him.