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Expectations for the 49ers Safeties in 2023

Jul 6, 2023 at 3:38 PM

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In 2022, the San Francisco 49ers went with four safeties—Tashaun Gipson, Talanoa Hufanga, George Odum, and Tarvarius Moore—finishing the regular season with 20 interceptions on defense. The 49ers tied the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most interceptions. Ten of the team's interceptions came from the safety position, led by the veteran Gipson, who had five interceptions. Second-year All-Pro safety Hufanga finished second with four, and Odum also recorded an interception.

During the offseason, the 49ers re-signed Gipson and drafted Ji'Ayir Brown out of Penn State with the first of the team's third-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. Per Pro Football Focus, Brown led the Nittany Lions in three intriguing categories: interceptions (3), dropped interceptions (2), and stopped plays (15). With the new addition of Brown, he will add some of his playmaking abilities to the secondary. Expect the 49ers to go with four safeties, the same as last season, with Brown replacing Moore.

There are three things I expect from the safety position in 2023.

Eliminate Explosive Plays

The starting safeties of the 49ers, Hufanga and Gipson; each gave up a big play during the 2022 season. Hufanga's most extended play recorded was 75 yards, and Gipson's longest stretch recorded 40 yards. Miscommunication and getting caught out of position were a couple of reasons for allowing the big plays. If the safeties can eliminate the big plays, it takes much-added pressure off the defense.

Get Stops

Hufanga and Gipson combined 15 stops, with Hufanga leading the safeties with 11. Stops are plays for loss on the offense. Several times Hufanga made plays in the backfield. With the addition of rookie safety Ji'Ayir Brown, the 49ers will look to continue to get stops from the safety position. It wouldn't be surprising to see the 49ers show a 4-1-6 (Dime 3 cornerbacks and 3 safeties) look if teams come out in heavy, aggressive passing attacks.

Finish Plays

The safeties for the 49ers recorded ten interceptions in 2022 to help the team finish tied for first in the NFL. Starting free safety Gipson led the team and position group with five interceptions, but he also led with five dropped interceptions. Those five dropped interceptions would have allowed the 49ers' offense to capitalize and score points.

Early during the offseason workouts, the team was enamored by the ball-hawking ability of Brown. Though he led the team with interceptions, he also dropped a few. Perhaps the safeties may want to run some wide receiver drills.

In Conclusion

The 49ers must take advantage of every opportunity this season. With the bolster on the defensive line up front, the secondary must show up and show out mainly at the safety position. The safety position is the last line of defense, so which of the 49ers' safeties will save the day?
  • Written by:
    Wayne Breezie is a 49ers content creator. He had his first guest appearance on Ronbosports in 2012. He began writing for a Facebook group called the League of the 49ers. Next, he began writing for Nothing But Niners in 2017. In 2018, Wayne Breezie made his debut on YouTube’s Nothing But Niners show. In 2019, he started his podcast called Nitty Gritty Niners. After putting the pen down for several years, Breezie saw an opportunity to write for His first published article was in January of 2022 with 49ersCap, and he currently writes and produces weekly podcasts.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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