SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers entered their offseason program this year with no competition for the team’s starting safety positions.

That will not be the case in 2019.

Rookie strong safety Marcell Harris has played his way into the conversation for next season with his performances of the past three games. In four starts, Harris has 25 tackles, including three for losses. Harris was a sixth-round draft pick from Florida after missing his entire senior season with an Achilles injury.

“Marcell’s got the talent to play,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “He definitely has the ability, and we love his mindset. You guys can see him out there. Even if he’s wrong, he’s still flying around trying to hit people. He doesn’t hesitate.

“The more experience he gets, the better he’ll get, and I think he’s shown the teammates, the coaches and the fans that he has a chance to help us next year. He’ll be right in the mix competing with a number of other guys.”

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It was clear after last season that the 49ers envisioned strong safety Jaquiski Tartt and free safety Adrian Colbert as their starters. But Colbert and Tartt both battled injuries and inconsistencies this season. Colbert went on injured reserve on Oct. 22 with a high ankle sprain. Tartt was placed on injured reserve last week with a shoulder injury.


If the 49ers do not add a veteran in free agency or invest a draft pick in either of the safety positions, Harris would compete against Tartt at strong safety. Tartt also can play free safety, where the team will return Colbert and D.J. Reed.