San Francisco worked out free agent defensive back Anthony Averett on Monday, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. According to Ian Rapoport, the 49ers are signing Erik Harris to the practice squad.
Harris, 33, was with the Falcons in 2021 and 2022. He’s a veteran at 33, so the 49ers are likely looking for experience at the position, to go along with a capable special teams tackler.
Harris started 12 games for Atlanta in 2021, and double-digit games in each of the two seasons prior for the Raiders. So, in a pinch, the Niners would have a player who has started 43 games dating back to 2018 in the event of an injury.
Here’s Shanahan’s quote about the 49ers’ safety depth and how they plan to navigate around injuries as the season goes along from last week:
With S George Odum as a safety backup now and S Tayler Hawkins on the practice squad. Is that a little thin in terms of depth for safety or is that doable?
“No, most people in the NFL have four safeties, some might have five, some might have three, but a high percentage have four. So when you lose one, it’s always an issue. We’ve got a guy on practice squad who you just said, and we got other guys we can cross train. So a short week we’ll deal with it right now, but something that we might have to address as this year goes.”
Can your existing corners step in a pinch and play safety-type positions?
“I mean, someone’s got to go there. So, when you lose certain guys, you’ve got to always have that plan. Just like at O-Line when you lose a certain amount of guys, just like at quarterback when you lose a certain amount. There’s no third strings on a NFL field. It’s ones and some guys have twos, but those twos are also playing special teams. So that’s the whole challenge as this year goes.”
Harris started on every special teams unit for Atlanta.