OTAs are a great time to experiment. Whether you want to see if a player can handle more responsibility, or play an entirely different role, May and June are the perfect time to do so. In the case of the San Francisco 49ers, they are doing just that. The big news has been Tarvarius Moore practicing at free safety this week. That’s not the only news in the secondary. New defensive backs coach Joe Woods told the media that the safeties will be more interchangeable this year. Early on in OTAs, there’s been a noticeable difference where Adrian Colbert and Jaquiski Tartt have been lining up.
According to PFF, last year Tartt played 290 snaps in the box/slot while playing 111 as the single-high safety. For Colbert, he played 33 snaps in the box/slot, and 285 as the single-high safety. Woods wants to be more multiple, and be able to give the offenses more looks. It could be as simple as if a wide receiver goes in motion across the formation, instead of Tartt following him, he drops back as the deep safety, and Colbert comes down in the slot. Another example would be both safeties start high, and Colbert would now go to the middle of the field, or somewhere underneath, instead of that always being Tartt. Both players seem excited about the opportunity. Here’s Tartt:
“I love it. I feel like we should have done a lot more of it last year. But this year we’re able to work on it and I’m to — pretty much — get free-safety reps as well as play in the box.”
Colbert is up from 195 pounds to 210 pounds, knowing that his role would be different in 2019.
“I’ve never played in the box until now, and it’s exciting because you get into the mix of things. Now I’m down there with the (linebackers) and it’s awesome.”
Seeing how much of an influence Woods has on the defense will be something to keep an eye on. Woods had been with the Denver Broncos from 2015-2018. During that time the Broncos had one of the more aggressive, ball-hawking secondaries in the league. Their pass defense was historically good during his first two years. If there’s a coach that can right this ship, it’s Woods.
Tevin on the move
Kyle Shanahan is no stranger to moving guys around. RB Tevin Coleman said that Shanahan, the head coach, is more creative than Shanahan the offensive coordinator.
“He can put guys at multiple positions. He can put us (the running backs) in multiple positions to run different routes. It’s pretty good.”
If the 49ers break the huddle with three running backs on the field, one of them will likely be matched up against a linebacker. That’s advantage Niners. You’ll take that every day of the week. I’m excited to see what tricks Shanahan has up his sleeve with the different weapons he has at his disposal on offense.