San Francisco 49ers

49ers training camp preview: Longshots at safety

Boise State Broncos safety Chanceller James (3) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, at Air Force Academy, Colo.
Boise State Broncos safety Chanceller James (3) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, at Air Force Academy, Colo. AP

As Kyle Shanahan said (in so many words) earlier this year: The spring is for learning the playbook, the summer is where the roster jockeying begins. With that in mind, here's how the depth chart looked when the spring sessions ended as well as some of the storylines to come when training camp gets underway. Players report on Thursday; the first practice is July 28.

Next up: safety.

SS: Eric Reid, Jaquiski Tartt, Chanceller James

FS: Jimmie Ward, Vinnie Sunseri, Don Jones, Lorenzo Jerome

Storylines:

* Most of the teams that have adopted a Seahawks-like defense in recent years have struggled to find a free safety anywhere near as good as Seattle's Earl Thomas. Ward, who is aggressive and instinctual, may be the closest fit. His issue has been staying healthy. If he can't, the 49ers must find a replacement who can fill the role...

* ... Sunseri and Jones have alternated with the second-team defense. Both are outstanding special teams players and those units would benefit if either or both make the team. Jerome, however, appears to have the instincts the position requires. The undrafted rookie will be fun to watch in training camp and the preseason. It's clear he's a good center fielder; is he a hitter?

* Reid seems like the clear frontrunner for the strong-safety spot and the otherwise young secondary will benefit from his maturity/leadership. James is interesting. He went undrafted in April and wasn't even signed as a free agent in the days after the draft. Instead, he attended San Francisco's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis and was one of two rookies the team signed after that camp. James (6-2, 215) might be a fish out of water on a lot of teams, but his combination of size and aggression makes him intriguing for the 49ers. He stood out a couple of times in the spring practices that were open to reporters and promises to do so more often when hitting and tackling are permitted.

From earlier:

defensive line

linebacker

cornerback

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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