Positional Analysis Safety- 02/07/2001
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The 49ers always seem to be in good shape with their safeties. Most recently, Lance Schulters has been the star in the defensive backfield, and he has been coupled with four different players. Zack Bronson is the eldest of the group, and always seems to make an impact when give the opportunity. Peirson Prioleau two seasons ago has become a good contributor, but has failed to live up to his full potential thus far. John Keith drafted last season has made huge strides and cracked the starting lineup last season before being injured. Ronnie Heard an undrafted free agent of last season also made huge strides last season.

The problem with the 49ers safeties though, is two fold. Firstly, there are too many of them, and secondly both Lance Schulters and Zack Bronson are free agents. Lance Schulters is restricted so the 49ers can match any offer he is given, but Zack Bronson is unrestricted. The 49ers will have a hard time brining both of these guys back, but with Schulters being Pro Bowl caliber, and Bronson being an improving player who knows the defense in and out, it looks like Schulters may edge out Bronson. That would also eliminate the first problem of having too many safeties.

The draw back to this method is that the 49ers don't get to keep the best four players. Ideally, the team would be looking to keep Schulters and Keith as starters, with Bronson, and Heard as the back ups, with Prioleau being shown the door or possibly traded. This however will likely not be the case.

Last season Schulters seemed to excel with Keith on the field, mainly because it allowed Schulters to move back to his best position of free safety. That may be the best reason the 49ers have to start Keith over Bronson given they get both back next season. Ronnie Heard meanwhile, continued to improve all of last season, and should be a valuable part of the 49ers defense in years to come.

The 49ers likely wish all their positions were as rich as the safety position. If the teams biggest problem were worrying about which good player to start, they'd have a winning record no question. Unfortunately that's not the case, and though the 49ers seem to be 'set' at the safety position, the team does need to improve in many other areas on defense.

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