ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported former Baltimore safety Tony Jefferson is signing with the San Francisco 49ers on Monday morning. Jefferson tore his ACL early in 2019 and has not played in the NFL since.
It’s a one-year deal for Jefferson. The corresponding move for the Niners was to release CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
Baltimore released Jefferson in February of 2020 due to injury. Jefferson tore his ACL and LCL in his left knee during the 2019 regular season. He missed 11 games due to a knee injury. Jefferson also missed two games with an ankle injury in 2018.
When Jefferson was on the field for Baltimore, he was one of the most effective defensive backs in the NFL. Jefferson was on track for another fantastic season in 2019 before he went down with an injury. He broke up five passes on seven targets. Jefferson has the type of versatility where you feel comfortable letting him rush the passer.
DeMeco Ryans said last week that this defense would be different, and the use of more defensive backs could be one way the 2021 defense changes. Jefferson has been out of football for some time, but he’s a veteran who doesn’t make the same mental mistakes that lead to explosive plays like some of the younger safeties on the roster have when Jaquiski Tartt or Jimmie Ward haven’t been on during the past couple of seasons.
Jefferson must have shown enough during his workout and passed a physical, so San Francisco saw something in the former Pro Bowler. However, to make the roster, Jefferson would have to beat out Marcell Harris and Tavon Wilson.
Who makes the roster in the secondary just got a little more interesting. The younger guys like Talanoa Hufanga and Jared Mayden will have an uphill battle, though they could always go on the practice squad if the team only keeps four safeties and an extra cornerback. With Tarvarius Moore and Ward’s positional versatility, that seems like the most fitting scenario.