San Francisco

Niners Still Looking for Help at Safety

Reports indicate veteran Jairus Byrd will work out for San Francisco Tuesday, and could battle for starting spot at free safety

The 49ers first were active in veteran free agency this offseason, then worked to add former collegiate standouts in the recent NFL draft. Then they signed several undrafted college players.

Still, the 49ers aren’t done tinkering with their roster.

Several reports indicate the 49ers are working out veteran free-agent safety Jairus Byrd Tuesday, with the possibility of signing him.

Byrd, 30, has played for the Bills and Saints. He came into the NFL with Buffalo as a second-round pick out of Oregon and quickly made his presence known, intercepting nine passes as a rookie free safety while starting 11 games.

He’s played eight NFL seasons — the past three with New Orleans — mostly as a free safety. Over 16 games with the Saints in 2016, Byrd had two interceptions, three passes defensed and was in on 82 tackles. Over 98 pro starts, he’s had 25 interceptions and has been to three Pro Bowls.

Currently, the 49ers have Eric Reid at strong safety and Jimmie Ward at free safety. If the Niners like what they see of Byrd, Byrd could slip into the free safety role and Ward could return to the competition at cornerback.

Adam Schefter of reported Byrd will work out for the 49ers, along with several other defensive backs. David Neumann of the analytic website Pro Football Focus noted that Byrd was an outstanding ballhawk with the Bills, but has been hurt by injuries in two of the past three seasons. Even if the 49ers sign Byrd, noted Neumann, the team could use a variety of backs at the safety positions.

“San Francisco currently has three safeties on its roster drafted in the top-50 selections, with former first-rounders Eric Reid and Jimmie Ward and second-rounder Jaquiski Tartt,” he wrote. “However, the 49ers lack depth at the free safety position. Ward is transitioning to free safety after spending his first three NFL seasons at cornerback and Reid and Tartt are expected to play primarily in the box in San Francisco’s new defensive scheme.”

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