Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

49ers safety Tavon Wilson impresses coaches after stepping into starting role

Rohan Chakravarthi
Aug 4, 2021 at 3:35 PM--

Last week, the 49ers placed starting strong safety Jaquiski Tartt on the reserve/COVID-19 list to begin training camp, paving the way for new 49er Tavon Wilson to take the starting safety snaps.

After a week, he has drawn the praises of his coaches and teammates for his play and energy coming into training camp.

The 31-year old defensive back was originally brought in during the beginning of the offseason, coming off a season with the Indianapolis Colts, with which he played fifteen games.

While Wilson is on the wrong side of 30, he has been primarily healthy as a contributor in his NFL career, which is something the 49ers need at the defensive back position.

On Wednesday, defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans shared his thoughts on how Wilson has stepped into his role with Tartt out.

"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."

However, when asked (multiple times) whether a safety competition would ensue for the starting spot, Ryans shared more hesitance.

"We'll see what happens. Whenever Tartt comes back, we'll see what happens there."

Still, Ryans named Wilson as the player he was most "pleasantly surprised" with on the defensive side of the ball.

"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."

According to Ryans, Wilson hasn't only showcased his leadership on the defensive side, but has also showcased leadership skills by coaching up the wide receivers.

"It's important for us [that Wilson is talking with the offense and teaching the wide receivers]. Throughout training camp, offensively or defensively, you know, at times you put the pads on and you get tired of banging or going against each other, but our guys are really tight. That's the thing about our team. We have a really tight team that works together, offensively defensively, not only on the field, but off the field, helping each other. When it comes to the schematics, comes to how the cover routes, how to run certain routes better, guys are always helping each other."

The offense has taken notice as tight end George Kittle also praised the veteran defensive back during his presser after practice Wednesday.

"I love [Wilson]. He's been great. He's awesome. I think, I wasn't sure what to expect. He was really good in OTA's. But like I said, once you put the pads on, you know, it becomes more of a game, and you get to actually see physicality and stuff."

From Wilson's play, Kittle could see an experienced player, which Kittle noted only makes him a better player.

"He definitely is a [veteran] guy. He holds a little bit extra, he gets away, like he knows how to get away with stuff, and that's fantastic for me to get. I'm getting reps against a [veteran] that knows how to play the game and he's a hell of a player too, but he's super smart, he's always in the right place at the right time."

In addition to Wilson's experience, Kittle also appreciated Wilson's knowledge of the game along with his competitiveness that fuels the energy of the defensive back's teammates.

"You can watch him on film. He made a couple of fantastic plays yesterday, whether it's just filling the B-gap, A-gap, on a run and stuff," said Kittle. "He knows where he's supposed to be at all times, he quick triggers, and I love competing against him because he definitely brings the best out of me, but he wants to compete at a high level, and when you compete at a high level against your own teammates, it only makes you better."

With Tartt expected back sometime soon, look for there to be an interesting position battle, although Tartt has had more experience in the system to go along with his resumé.

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