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49ers 2024 Roster Breakdown: Defensive Backs, Safeties

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Each week leading up to the start of training camp, 49ers.com will assess the team's roster as we get closer to the season. In this installment of the 49ers roster breakdown, 49ers.com is diving in to the team's secondary and breaking down the defensive backs and safeties unit.

After an All-Pro, Pro Bowl 2022 season and promising start to 2023, the 49ers are eagerly waiting for the return of fourth-year veteran, Talanoa Hufanga. The safety went down in Week 11 last year with a season-ending ACL injury, and was one of a few veterans present at the team's mandatory minicamp this offseason as he continued his rehab.

"I'm feeling great," Hufanga said. "I get a little eager out there. I'm super excited. It's fun. The days I get to go out there and watch practices, it's been a blessing. You see how much football truly means to you when you're away from it. It's everything to me. I truly do love it."

Stepping up at a crucial moment for the team in 2023 was former third-round pick Ji'Ayir Brown. As he enters his sophomore campaign, the safety is being recognized as an "on the rise" player in NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks' 2024 NFL All-Breakout Team.

"The ball-hawking safety lived up to his reputation in Year 1," Brooks wrote. "Brown notched a pair of regular-season interceptions and a postseason pick as a part-time starter who was thrown into the fire following Hufanga's season-ending injury. The interceptions showcased his range and ball skills, adding a dimension to a defensive backfield that feasts on tipped passes and overthrown balls down the field. With the 49ers expected to return to a scheme that places a premium on turnovers, the second-year pro could become a household name as a takeaway specialist on an elite defense."

Joining the squad this year are rookies Jaylen Mahoney, an undrafted free agent from Vanderbilt, and Malik Mustapha, a fourth-round draft pick from Wake Forest. The two safeties join a competitive roster aiming to elevate the team's performance in the upcoming season.

Position Breakdown

Defensive Backs

Safeties

Defensive Backs Breakdown

Lenoir enters his fourth season in the NFL this year. He was selected by the team in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Throughout his first three years in the league, Lenoir has appeared in 47 games and recorded 180 tackles, eight tackles-for-loss, two QB hits, 17 passes defended and four interceptions. In 2023, Lenoir started in all 17 games primarily at nickel and recorded three interceptions.

Safeties Breakdown

Brown is entering his second season with the 49ers. He was selected by the team in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

In his rookie year, Brown appeared in 15 games (five starts). His production on San Francisco's defense increased when safety Talanoa Hufanga suffered a torn ACL in November. Last season, Brown recorded 35 tackles, two interceptions and four passes defended, finishing the 2023 season as the team's highest-graded safety (77.9).

Harris is entering his ninth year in the NFL, and his second year with the 49ers. The safety originally entered the NFL after signing with the New Orleans Saints from the Canadian Football League in 2016.

Throughout his eight-year NFL career with the Saints (2016), Las Vegas Raiders (2017-20), Atlanta Falcons (2021-22) and 49ers (2023) he has appeared in 94 games and recorded 267 tackles, a 0.5 sack, 28 passes defended, five interceptions and one forced fumble.

Hawkins is entering his third season with the 49ers. He originally joined the team as an undrafted free agent ahead of the 2022 season, spending the year on the team's practice squad.

In the first two years of Hawkins' career, the safety started in one game (2023) and recorded four tackles, one pass defended and one interception.

Hufanga enters his fourth season in the NFL this year. He was selected by the team in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Throughout his first three years in the league, Hufanga has appeared in 42 games and recorded 181 tackles, seven tackles-for-loss, six QB hits, 14 passes defended, seven interceptions and earned Pro Bowl and AP First-Team All-Pro honors (2022). Last year, Hufanga went down in Week 11 with a season-ending ACL injury.

Mahoney is entering his first year in the NFL after signing with the 49ers as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Vanderbilt University.

The safety appeared in 54 games over five seasons and recorded 247 tackles, 4.0 sacks, one forced fumble, 22 passes defended, four interceptions and one forced fumble. In 2023, Mahoney appeared in 11 games (11 starts) and recorded 59 tackles and a team-high 6 passes defended as a team captain.

The 49ers selected Mustapha in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft from Wake Forest University.

Mustapha appeared in 39 games over four years at Wake Forest (2021-23) and Richmond (2020-21) and recorded 192 tackles, 10 passes defended, three interceptions, 15.0 tackles-for-loss, 4.0 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. As a redshirt junior in 2023, Mustapha started all 12 games at safety and notched 80 tackles, three passes defended, one interception, 0.5 a sack and one forced fumble as a team captain.

Odum enters his seventh season in the NFL this year, and his third with the 49ers. He originally entered the NFL by signing with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2018.

Throughout his six-year career with the Colts (2018-21) and the 49ers (2022-23), Odum has appeared in 93 games (10 starts) and tallied 108 tackles, three interceptions, five passes defended, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He has also appeared in nine postseason contests and added two tackles. Odum has led the NFL in special teams tackles twice in his career (2020 & 2022), earning him AP First-Team All-Pro honors in 2020 and AP Second-Team All-Pro honors in 2022. In 2023, Odum appeared in 11 games and recorded two tackles on defense and tied for the team lead with 10 special teams tackles. He also appeared in all three postseason contests where he added one tackle on special teams.

In March, the 49ers signed Odum to a two-year extension through the 2026 season.

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