The 49ers were so close to adding veteran safety J.J. Wilcox on Tuesday that he was in their office ready to put pen to paper. Wilcox, however, changed his mind and decided to join the Jets instead.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Wilcox wanted to play for Jets coach Todd Bowles and hopped on a flight from the Bay Area to New York.
That means San Francisco still has a short-term shortage at strong safety. The 49ers have a promising, young starter at the position in Jaquiski Tartt. However, the next three players listed there are injured and won't be back until training camp.
They are sixth-round pick Marcell Harris, who suffered an Achilles tear at the University of Florida last year, and Don Jones and Chanceller James, both of whom suffered ACL tears a year ago.
During the team's OTA practice Tuesday, undrafted rookie Terrell Williams lined up at strong safety with the second-team defense and he's even taken a few snaps with the starting unit in recent weeks.
Wilcox was a third-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2013 and has started 39 games since. He attended Georgia Southern, where he played on offense — receiver and slotback — until his final season, when he transitioned to safety.
The 49ers have said they remain open to the possibility of re-signing Eric Reid, who at 26 is a year younger than Wilcox and who played well in the 49ers' defense last year.
Asked about perhaps adding Reid to the mix, defensive-backs coach Jeff Hafley last week noted how much he likes Reid but also referenced the three injured players.
"We've got some guys," he said of the position. "And I'm excited for those injured guys to come back. You know, Chanceller did a nice job last year, if you guys remember, in OTAs. He was one of those pleasant surprises in our tryout camp."
Reid has filed a grievance against the NFL claiming that the league has blackballed him because he knelt during the national anthem the last two years. Reid, who is known to have had a free-agent visit with the Cincinnati Bengals, said a team owner asked him about his intent to demonstrate during the anthem in 2018. Reid has said that he does not plan to kneel this season.
It's not known whether the 49ers discussed signing Reid before bringing in Wilcox. Neither Reid nor his agent returned messages about the matter on Tuesday morning.