The safety position was one that many wondered if the San Francisco 49ers would look into ahead of the 2020 season.
While the team did add an undrafted free agent safety in the form of Alabama’s Jared Mayden, the team never made any serious moves in terms of bringing in competition for strong safety or free safety.
That is apparently changing, with San Francisco reportedly bringing in veteran strong safety Johnathan Cyprien, who most recently played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons after time with the and Tennessee Titans.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 18, 2020
Cyprien has hopped around the NFL over the past few years, but has pretty much always maintained a roster spot. However, is he a player the 49ers think could compete with starting SS Jaquiski Tartt, or do they have other plans?
Cyprien was an exciting prospect coming out of Florida International University after being known as a hard-hitting safety with good enough ball skills to make plays all over the field.
This prompted the Jaguars to select the safety with their second-round pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, keeping the safety in Florida for four more seasons.
Cyprien started 60 games while in Jacksonville, recording two picks and forcing five fumbles in that time. However, the Jaguars didn’t find a second contract for Cyprien as an attractive option, letting him hit free agency.
The now-30-year-old safety didn’t travel far, joining the Titans on a four-year contract and for the 2017 season, where he started 10 games and earned a sack.
However, Cyprien tore his ACL ahead of the 2018 season, sidelining him and eventually seeing the former Panther head to Atlanta in the 2019 season.
Cyprien only started one game before being released, which saw him head to the Eagles for four appearances and no starts.
It’s safe to say that Cyprien has had an unfortunate pair of seasons in 2018 and 2019, but even with the issues of the past couple years, he had no trouble finding a roster spot.
So, what does that mean for the 49ers?
49ers Strong Safety Position
It’s hard to move on from Jaquiski Tartt. After being selected in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the 49ers have consistently relied on Tartt for important snaps, either as a starter or a backup.
However, Tartt has never been able to start a full season at the position, and still feels like one of the weaker links on an exceptional 49ers defense in 2019.
The fact of the matter appears to be that Tartt still hasn’t completely dissolved all doubts about the former Samford Bulldog being the guy going forward, but it’s not like Cyprien is exactly a player that will quickly take it from him.
If anything, the former Jaguar is likely insurance going forward. Tartt can lay a hit, but is a bit more agile and and a bit less physical than a player like Cyprien.
Signing Cyprien would mean the team could keep Tartt as the ideal SS, but also have a more physical option that could be used on run-heavy situations. While that sounds nice, it remains to be seen exactly what San Francisco has planned.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.