The San Francisco 49ers depth at cornerback was tested in 2019, but not by rookie Tim Harris, who was placed on injured reserve before the season started. Harris’s injuries go back to Virginia, where he missed all but one game in both 2016 and 2017. Harris was granted a sixth year of eligibility in 2018. Harris finished 2018 with two interceptions, and four passes defended in 11 games.
Harris practiced on the third and fourth team defense last training camp and never really stood out or made a name for himself. That doesn’t mean the 49ers didn’t like his skill set. I always took Harris going on the injured reserve as the Niners redshirting him so that another team couldn’t sign Harris from the practice squad. Big cornerbacks with length that can run are coveted in the NFL. Harris ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at his Pro Day.
Harris’s goal should be to carve out a role for himself on special teams this year, show the coaching staff he’s willing to work his butt off, do the dirty work, and slowly earn a role in defense down the line.
Age: 24 (turns 25 July 31)
Experience: One accrued season
Harris enters the second year of his four-year contract that totals $2.9 million. In 2020, Harris’s base salary is $610,000. If the 49ers release him, they’ll save his base salary and have to pay Harris his prorated bonus of $39,577.
Where he can improve in 2020
Harris will essentially be a 25-year-old rookie in 2020. John Lynch went out of his way to mention Harris in April and did so before bringing up Ahkello Witherspoon’s name:
You’ve got a guy like [CB] Tim Harris [Jr.] who we drafted and was having a really good camp and then had to go to Injured Reserve, but a guy that we’re excited about working with moving forward.
If the team likes you, you will get an opportunity to stick around. I liken Harris to Shawn Poindexter, a player that has the athletic ability who is a little raw, but someone you want on your roster as you can develop them into an NFL caliber player. These are the types of players you take chances on. Harris can’t improve if he’s not on the field. San Francisco has all different types of wide receivers, so practicing against Kyle Shanahan’s offense will be great for Harris’s development.
Odds on making the roster
Harris could be looking at another year on the IR or practice squad in 2020. The 49ers have Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Moseley, Ahkello Witherspoon, and K’Waun Williams. Those four are making the roster. D.J. Reed might not be a lock as Moseley can slide inside, but Reed brings value on special teams, including as a returner. Reed filled in for Williams when he couldn’t suit up last year against the Falcons. After that group, you have the ghost of Jason Verrett and Dontae Johnson, who continues to find ways to make the summer roster.
That’s a good amount of talent Harris will have to beat out. The odds are against him to make the 49ers roster come Week 1. Harris is a player that’s greatly affected by the loss of OTAs and minicamp.