Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
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Taking a look at where the 49ers sit at the safety position heading into the offseason

For the second season in a row, the San Francisco 49ers started a player in the biggest game of the season that they signed off the street after the preseason.

Last year, Jimmie Ward missed the first four games, and Tashaun Gipson stepped in and performed well enough that he never relinquished his starting spot. Talanoa Hufanga’s injury led to rookie third-rounder Ji’Ayir Brown starting this year. Then, once Brown went down, veteran Logan Ryan took over. Ryan began to at nickel in the Super Bowl.

In a perfect world, Hufanga and Brown are making plays at safety for the Niners for the foreseeable future. But a torn ACL suffered in November may force San Francisco to invest in a safety this offseason. That, and their lack of depth.

Safeties under contract for 2024:

Ji’Ayir Brown – $1.26M cap number

Talanoa Hufanga – $4.95M cap number

George Odum – $1.62M cap number

That’s it. That’s the list. Gipson will be 34 by Dwight Clark day in training camp. Ryan just turned 33. The team signed Tayler Hawkins to a reserve/future contract.

Odum is primarily a special-teamer. He’s in the final year of his contract. There will be at least one addition in free agency or the draft at safety — with two being more likely.

Their former teams released three veterans in February: Eddie Jackson, Adrian Phillips, and Tracy Walker. A splash signing doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards at safety, but I wouldn’t have guessed that Javon Hargrave would sign an $84 million deal on the first day of free agency, either.

Names that we know, Jordan Whitehead, Micah Hyder, Darnell Savage, Antonie Winfield Jr., and Kyle Dugger, will all be in high demand. I’ve been a fan of Dugger for multiple years now and wouldn’t let any injury prevent me from signing a player of his caliber.

But allocating funds toward safety doesn’t seem like it’s high on the list of things to do based on the front office’s history under Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch. It’s more likely that we see a signing the Friday after free agency starts or a Day 3 pick at safety.

Brown is rock solid and locked into a starting spot. Hufanga is only a question mark because he has one year left on his deal and is coming off a major injury. There’s also his previous injury throughout his tenure at USC that can’t be ignored. That’s something the 49ers will factor in as they head into free agency and the draft.

Gipson and Ryan could return, but an injection of youth and speed would better serve the 49ers in the short and long term. Insurance will be needed behind Brown and Hufanga, regardless of whether Talanoa is ready for the beginning of the season or not.

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