Prospect Profiles: Safeties Linked to the 49ers

When Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch inherited a 2-14 team four years ago, there were an exceptional number of holes to fill on San Francisco's roster. Through the draft, trades and free agency, the 49ers managed to sure up several of those voids with young cornerstone talent who have been key in the team's rebuild.

In a cyclical league, San Francisco aims to remain at the top of the NFL. Doing so means adding game-changing talent through the NFL Draft. George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Nick Bosa and Dre Greenlaw are examples of young players who were crucial in the success of the 49ers Super Bowl run. Lynch and Co. are looking to replicate their recent draft successes with players that slot into Shanahan's system.

Since the close of 2019, several draft prospects have been linked to the 49ers with the 31st pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Through mock drafts and analysis, experts have commonly identified the offensive line, defensive backs, linebackers and receivers as four positions the 49ers could potentially target early in next month's draft. Each day, will break down names that have been linked to the 49ers position-by-position, beginning with safety.

Sixth-year defensive back Jimmie Ward, who was often praised for his versatility along the secondary, is set to become a free agent later this month. Ward is coming off of an exceptional season in San Francisco, putting up career numbers at free safety in his first full 16-game season with the 49ers. Pending his unclear future in San Francisco, the 49ers could set out to fill Ward's uncertain void via the draft. Here's a look at some safety prospects who have been linked to the 49ers.

Prospect Profiles: | Cornerback | Offensive Line | Linebacker | Wide Receiver |


Xavier McKinney, Alabama

2019 Stats: McKinney is regarded as one of the top players available at safety heading into April's draft. As the Crimson Tide's leading tackler in 2019, McKinney recorded 95 tackles, 5.5 for loss, three sacks, five quarterback hurries, five pass breakups, three interceptions, including a pick six, four forced fumbles and a blocked kick.

What the experts are saying: "His coverage instincts, athleticism and quick-twitch burst are more cornerback than safety, which is why he's likely to be a coveted toy for teams looking to upgrade and diversify their sub-packages. He can sit in center field all day if needed, and he's an adequate open-field tackler but has room for improvement in that area. McKinney represents the new breed of versatile, matchup safety with high upside as an early starter." – NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein

How he fits with the 49ers: "McKinney played everywhere for Alabama, something the 49ers tend to love in defensive prospects. He can rock the strong safety spot with good tackling skills but is also fluid and athletic enough to play free safety or line up in the nickel. That's huge for a team that wants a jack-of-all-trades-type safety to replace Ward." - Matt Miller, Bleacher Report

Combine Results:

Table inside Article
40-yard Dash Bench Press Vertical Jump Broad Jump 3-cone Drill 20-yard Shuttle
Xavier McKinney 4.63 19 36.0 122.0 -- --

Grant Delpit, LSU

2019 Stats: Delpit earned the 2019 Jim Thorpe Award, given to the top defensive back in college football, despite playing through a high ankle sprain. He registered 65 stops, seven passes defended, two sacks, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in his final season at LSU.

What the experts are saying: "Aggressive, urgent striker with good upside. He transitions with instinctive eyes and plays physically against tight ends. Delpit should find a starting role early in his career as a versatile safety with big nickel potential." - Zierlein

How he fits with the 49ers: "The 49ers could lose Jimmie Ward this offseason and Delpit could step in and contribute from Day 1." - Josh Edwards, CBS Sports

Combine Results: Delpit participated in interviews and medical evaluations at the Combine, however did not compete in any on-field drills due to his ankle injury.


Ashtyn Davis, California

2019 Stats: In 12 games (11 starts) at Cal, Davis totaled 57 tackles, two interceptions, four pass breakups and two forced fumbles in 2019.

What the experts are saying: "Late-comer to the game who has rare physical gifts that can't be taught but can be capitalized on. He should become a future starter at safety, but his size, length and speed could create interest in him as a potential cornerback conversion." - Zierlein

How he fits with the 49ers: "Davis' best skills are those that the NFL values most highly. It's not as wild as you think. If Davis is the best deep middle safety in the class, then he's got a great shot to go early, especially if San Francisco's doing the drafting." Benjamin Solak, The Draft Network

Combine Results:

Table inside Article
40-yard Dash Bench Press Vertical Jump Broad Jump 3-cone Drill 20-yard Shuttle
Ashtyn Davis -- 14 -- -- -- --

Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota

2019 Stats: Son of former Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield, Winfield Jr. was named a first-team AP All-American and first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2019 after leading Minnesota with 88 tackles (3.5 for loss), seven interceptions, one for a touchdown, three sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass defended.

What the experts are saying: "Winfield isn't as tall or as long as teams like and he's an average athlete, but he's an interchangeable safety who can flat out play. Winfield is stout and strong with above average body control and balance. He can bang on tight ends in coverage and support the run near the box. His angles to the ball are efficient against the run or pass." - Zierlein

How he fits with the 49ers: "Defensive back, receiver or offensive line. What will the 49ers do? This is a hard pick to predict, but we'll go with Winfield after an impressive combine. Winfield only is 5-foot-9, though he is an absolute playmaker and proved his speed with a 4.45 40." - Dalton Johnson, NBC Sports

Combine Results:

Table inside Article
40-yard Dash Bench Press Vertical Jump Broad Jump 3-cone Drill 20-yard Shuttle
Antoine Winfield Jr. 4.45 -- 36.0 124.0 -- --

Take a look at some of the names being associated with the San Francisco 49ers in various mock drafts.