Analyst Gives Bold Prediction for 49ers’ 2022 Breakout Candidate


Getty The 49ers run onto the field before their December 12, 2021, road game versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

A player new to the San Francisco 49ers is bound to break out this fall.

That’s according to Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton, who revealed in a May 16 story his list of top breakout candidates for each NFL team.

Surprisingly, it’s not cornerback Charvarius Ward, a prized free agent signing. Nor is it defensive end Drake Jackson, the 49ers’ top draft pick. It’s also not one of the 49ers’ offensive draft picks — not running back Tyrion Davis-Price or wide receiver Danny Gray.

Wharton’s candidate is one of the former Indianapolis Colts defenders who signed with the 49ers this offseason, a player whom Wharton predicted to do “more than his predecessor.”

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Breakout Candidate Can Thrive in 2 Phases of the Field

Wharton’s breakout pick? Safety and special teamer George Odum.

Wharton said the Colts endured a deep loss when Odum signed a three-year, $9.5 million contract with the 49ers in March.

“Safety may not have been a position of major need for the Indianapolis Colts, but it had to sting to see special team ace George Odum crush his opportunity to start seven games in 2021,” Wharton wrote. “With just three starts in the three previous years combined, Odum seemingly maximized his shot by sticking as a gunner on punts. But Odum’s seven starts propelled him to a career-high 55 tackles, an interception, two pass breakups and a forced fumble.”

Odum is expected to produce game-altering plays for the 49ers, like this pass breakup against the Arizona Cardinals.

Or this interception of a Josh Allen pass in a 2021 game against the Buffalo Bills.

Or this special teams fumble recovery in a 2019 game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Odum Became High Priority

The 6-foot-1, 202-pounder isn’t just expected to be a wild man special teamer and extra safety net. Wharton reminded fans that Odum, a 28-year-old who was an All-Pro in 2020, will compete for a starting role on the defense.

San Francisco quickly signed Odum in free agency to compete for the strong safety role left by Jaquiski Tartt,” Wharton said. “Odum has the aggressiveness you’d expect from a special teams star and looked more comfortable in coverage than expected for someone with limited experience. His adjustment will be aided by a talented secondary featuring Charvarius Ward, Emmanuel Moseley, Ambry Thomas, Jason Verrett, Jimmie Ward and Tarvarius Moore.”

One reason for his addition, as Wharton noted: Odum’s ability to step up and snuff out the run from his safety spot.

“The 49ers are hoping he can bring the same effectiveness Tartt had against the run while adding some more dynamic ball production,” Wharton wrote.

But even in limited defensive duty with the Colts, there was no comparison between Odum and the longtime 49er Tartt.

“Odum produced more in a part-time role against the pass than Tartt did as a full-time starter,” Wharton said. “Tartt had 66 tackles but only one pass defense and no interceptions in 2021.”

Odum already has the attention of the 49ers Faithful. In his introductory press conference on March 22, he fired off a warning to opponents, saying, “This game is more mental than physical. So if I tell myself I’m gonna run through a dude’s face, I’m gonna do that.”

He also added this next message to opponents:

“My mindset has always been a dog. I’m always going to hit. I’m never afraid of hitting. I’m never slowing down at the point of contact. I’m not going to slow down,” he told the Bay Area media.

Though Odum might not be a household hame, that could change with the 49ers. “Look for Odum to do more than his predecessor,” Wharton wrote.

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