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Tavon Wilson is the player that sticks out to DeMeco Ryans early on in training camp

Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

With Jaquiski Tartt on the Reserve/COVID list, Tavon Wilson has taken all of the reps with the first-team defense in his place. Wilson had a near interception in practice, but the intangibles that he brings impressed defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

I asked Ryans who he’s been pleasantly surprised with on the defensive side of the ball after Wednesday’s practice. Here’s what he said:

“Surprised? I don’t know. I mean, the guy that sticks out to me on our defense right now is Tavon, Tavon Wilson. We talked about him earlier, but Tavon has really been, you know, surprising from the standpoint of just his leadership, his communication, his focus, and his consistent approach daily.”

Those seem like buzz words that might not have a tangible effect, but Wilson is talking nonstop. He’ll be on the sidelines, and if he sees a wide receiver make a mistake, he’ll walk over to them and talk to them. The same applies to the defensive backs, of course.

It didn’t sound like Ryans thinks there’s a competition at safety with a healthy Tartt, but he likes what he’s seen from the veteran safety so far in camp:

“I think having Tavon in, Tavon has done a really good job. I mean, you can tell he’s a true pro, he’s a leader. I love his approach to every day. He attacks every day the right way, does a really awesome job of communicating out there with the guys, making sure guys are all on the same page. And he’s just been, he’s been great in there. So I’m happy that we were able to get Tavon, a really great addition to our team and I like the way he’s working.

We’ll see what happens. Whenever Tartt comes back, we’ll see what happens there.”

Wilson is proving that he belongs. Early on, he’s the player some of us (maybe just me) hoped that Tony Jefferson would be. There aren’t mental mistakes, and he’s making the plays when they’re presented to him.

Wilson had another near interception during Wednesday’s practice and broke up a pass against George Kittle during 1-on-1’s. That may have been the most impressive play Wilson's made, as Kittle usually jumps over or simply outruns whoever is guarding him during that drill.

It’s early, but Wilson’s intangibles should be enough to put him on the roster. With the pressure, the defensive line generates, the secondary will have plenty of opportunities to get their hands on passes, which starts in the preseason.

Wilson may not start once Tartt is healthy, but he could be the extra defensive back the 49ers use in sub-packages if he provides enough value.