Don’t let the name fool you, the San Francisco 49ers new safety is no joke.
With the defensive backfield in flux, the Niners added depth to the back end of their defense with the signing of former Pro Bowler Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The news was reported by the free safety’s sports agency on Twitter Wednesday, Aug. 11.
Injuries Have Taken Toll on Niners Defensive Backfield
Clinton-Dix helps to shore up the injury-riddled unit, as safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Tony Jefferson each continue to struggle with nagging injuries.
A lingering toe injury he suffered last season has kept Tartt sidelined. He is currently on the physically unable to perform list. Jefferson has an injured groin and an injured hamstring. Team officials have said there is no firm timeline for the return of either safety.
Enter Clinton-Dix. Where the Niners are battling injuries, the former Pro-Bowl safety has been something of an ironman throughout his career.
Throughout the course of his six years in the NFL, Clinton-Dix has never missed a game. He has also started all but six games since entering the league. Those contests took place during his 2014 rookie season with the Green Bay Packers.
San Francisco Can Prove Fresh Start for Clinton-Dix
Clinton-Dix has had an exceptional career to this point. The 28-year-old played the first four and a half years of his NFL tenure with Green Bay, where he was named to the Pro Bowl in 2016.
The Packers traded the safety to the Washington Football Team in 2018, where he played in, and started, nine games. Clinton-Dix left Washington for the Chicago Bears in 2019, where he again started all 16 games.
The safety’s next stop was with the Dallas Cowboys, where he was cut from the roster before the end of camp. For undisclosed reasons, Clinton-Dix chose not to play in the NFL during the 2020 regular season.
Now a member of the Niners, the safety is likely to keep his games played and games started streaks alive, at least for a little while. And San Francisco can use the help. Beyond being down multiple safeties, Clinton-Dix brings an impressive career stat line to the backfield in the Bay.
His career totals include 522 tackles, 33 passes defended, 16 interceptions, 5.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, and 1 defensive touchdown, per Pro Football Reference.
Along with the injured Tartt and Jefferson, Clinton-Dix also joins safeties Tavon Wilson and Talanoa Hufanga, a fifth-round pick in this year’s NFL draft out of the University of Southern California, on the Niners roster.
Hufanga, as a rookie, may not be prepared to start immediately. Wilson, a fellow veteran, has played nine seasons in the league. However, he has been more of a rotational defensive back, serving in a supporting role throughout his time with the New England Patriots, the Detroit Lions and, most recently, the Indianapolis Colts.
Clinton-Dix, if he can find his previous form, is likely to end up ahead of both Hufanga and Wilson on the depth chart, and could find his way to the field as early as Week 1.