Third-year safety Adrian Colbert entered last season as a starter. This year, he finds himself further down the depth chart competing for playing time. After Saturday night's win against the Dallas Cowboys, Colbert didn't sound too concerned about the competition and is focused on what he can control — self-improvement each day.

"I feel like I'm getting back to my old self," Colbert told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area on Saturday night. "I'm healthy. That's it. I'm trying to get back to my old self, to the one that everyone saw my rookie year. I feel like I'm finally back in a good place mentally and physically to go out and perform like I used to do."

Colbert said he dealt with a lot of "outside things" last year and perhaps didn't handle his second NFL offseason the way he should have. The safety didn't want to elaborate on what he was dealing with last year but considers the whole experience a lesson to be learned.

"I've prepared tremendously this offseason in ways that I wish I would have going into my second year," Colbert added. "I wish I would have prepared the way I did this year, but I didn't so I just have to live with it and work my way back up to what I used to be and where I used to be."

Colbert believes he is headed in the right direction. He is, however, in a different situation than he was last offseason when he was entering the season as the undeniable starter at free safety. The San Francisco 49ers were so confident in Colbert that they moved Jimmie Ward back to cornerback.

Despite an injury-riddled career, Ward remains on the team and, once healthy, is expected to compete for the starting free safety job. Tarvarius Moore has been getting most of the reps there with the first-team defense during training camp.

"I'm just going out there, trying to be better than I was the day before," Colbert added. "Taking it one day at a time, not really worrying about competition. But we're also out there trying to make each other better every day."

Colbert hopes to prove he deserves to move back up the depth chart. Of course, getting disqualified from a game probably won't help his case. Luckily, there are more opportunities ahead.

Colbert didn't sound too concerned about his hit on Cowboys wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. and subsequent disqualification after the play. The call to eject the 49ers safety didn't come from on the field, but from New York after the play was reviewed during the break in the action.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan called the hit on a defenseless receiver a learning experience for the team and a teachable moment. After all, it wasn't that long ago that a hit like that might have been overlooked. The NFL is evolving, however, and offensive players are more protected in the name of safety than they once were.

"We've just got to learn from it," Shanahan said after the game. "I saw it live, and it did seem like his helmet hit his chest, and he led with his helmet, which is a penalty. That's unfortunate he got ejected. I know his intent. It's a bang-bang play, and he's playing fast and trying to stop him on third down."

Colbert thought it was a textbook hit, and didn't get to speak with an official before being escorted to the locker room.

"The refs make the call, and we just got to live with it," Colbert said. "They called it [a hit on a defenseless receiver]. We've got to live with it and just got to go to the tape and watch it."

Maiocco believes Colbert isn't just competing to move up the depth chart, but perhaps for a roster spot. The 49ers insider believes Colbert should try to prove his worth on special teams because he believes Ward, Moore, Jaquiski Tartt, and Marcell Harris all rank above him right now in the safety pecking order.

You can listen to the entire segment with Colbert below. It begins at about the 10:50 mark. Maiocco also speaks with 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens during the podcast.