Lorenzo Jerome’s strong training camp spikes 49ers’ safety depth competition

Jul 29, 2017 at 5:26 PM


San Francisco 49ers safety Lorenzo Jerome has made some noteworthy plays over the first two days of training camp. With depth an issue at the position, and Jimmie Ward injured, how will Jerome's efforts impact the regular-season depth chart?


Undrafted free agents are rarely storylines at NFL training camps. But this isn't the case for San Francisco 49ers rookie safety Lorenzo Jerome.

Jerome has been one of a number of standouts ever since the Niners began their on-field practices during camp on Friday, July 28. The former St. Francis (PA) defensive back, of course, came to the 49ers following the 2017 NFL Draft after going undrafted. Earlier this offseason, I included Jerome as one of the fringe players with a great chance of making San Francisco's 53-man roster this season.

So far, Jerome's training camp production has made it a real possibility.

Jerome now has back-to-back interceptions over two days of training camp, the second coming off a pass from quarterback Matt Barkley. Per Chris Biderman of USA Today's Niners Wire, this one marked the fourth of Jerome's offseason campaign.

One of the other reasons Jerome has received a good deal of press so far is the hamstring injury suffered by presumed starting free safety Jimmie Ward. Ward injured his hamstring during a conditioning test last Thursday, resulting in a placement on the physically unable-to-perform list when practices started the following day.

Ward's move to the PUP list could merely be a precautionary one. Yet it does shake up San Francisco's depth chart at safety.

In Ward's place, the Niners inserted third-year pro Jaquiski Tartt with the first-string unit. This sounds fine, but as Niners Wire's Rob Lowder pointed out, Tartt "looked overmatched" when asked to perform the center-field duties on Cover 3 schemes. Tartt is certainly better equipped as a strong safety down towards the box, so the Niners may be forced to seriously consider Jerome as a starter if Ward's injury is long term.

Another plausible option -- and one more likely -- would be to move likely strong safety starter Eric Reid back to the free safety position. Reid played there ever since being drafted by the 49ers back in 2013.

The Niners also have defensive backs Chanceller James, Adrian Colbert and Vinnie Sunseri to consider at the position.

Jerome's sudden ascension could easily push James and/or Colbert out of the picture for a regular-season roster spot. Sunseri, who played free safety during OTAs earlier this offseason, per Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, is still on the bubble. But his ability on special teams makes him a strong candidate to crack the roster.

At any rate, Jerome is starting to look much more like a worthy roster addition this September. His stellar play is all but eliminating the possibility San Francisco can stash him on the practice squad.

Look for him to make it through roster cuts after the preseason, especially if these performances continue.
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.
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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