John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Barrows: Keep an eye on 49ers safety Lorenzo Jerome

May 26, 2017 at 1:45 PM--

Lorenzo Jerome was among the undrafted free agents signed by the San Francisco 49ers following the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft in April. He played college football at St. Francis University, a small Catholic school in Loretto, Pennsylvania. In four seasons with the Red Flash, Jerome had 18 interceptions, including six in 2016.

While his production at the small institution was impressive, his numbers at the Combine were not. His 4.70-second 40-time was the worst among the defensive backs who participated.

Despite all of that, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee believes that Jerome is a player to keep an eye on this offseason. The 49ers beat writer joined the "Murph & Mac" show on KNBR Friday and discussed Jerome.

"I've watched two practices in which Lorenzo Jerome has participated and he's come up with an interception in each of those," Barrows said. "And he played that critical free safety spot – that Earl Thomas spot – that Jimmie Ward is playing and I think Jimmie Ward is a really good fit there. The issue with that: Jimmie Ward has gotten injured a lot since he joined the 49ers. The question is: What happens if Jimmie Ward goes down with an injury this year?

"You wonder if this guy, Lorenzo Jerome, will be able to work himself up to the point where he's the number two player at that spot and possibly could step in at some point if Ward goes down."

You can listen to the entire interview on KNBR.

Ward has missed 13 games in the three seasons since being drafted by the 49ers. The team is transitioning to a single-high safety scheme and Ward is expected to fill that role. He has accumulated 110 tackles, two sacks, 20 passes defended, and two interceptions over his three seasons. The new coaching staff was impressed enough with Ward that the team picked up his fifth-year option earlier this month – a move that will keep him under contract through the 2018 season.

Jerome is a converted quarterback who attended St. Francis because it was the only college program that would give the 5-foot-10 prospect a shot at the position. Jerome believes that his background as a signal caller has benefited his game as a safety.

"It helped me a lot," Jerome said via the Sacramento Bee. "I know what to expect out of the quarterback. I know his posture, when he's going to turn his hips, his shoulders. That helps me a lot."

Jerome was the first player from St. Francis to be invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. Last season, he had 59 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, 11 passed defensed, and a touchdown on a kick return. Jerome started as a true freshman and was a first-team All-Northeast Conference selection in each year of his college career.

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