49ers safety Adrian Colbert back up to speed after disappointing 2018

49ers safety Adrian Colbert back up to speed after disappointing 2018

SANTA CLARA – In one year’s time, Adrian Colbert has gone from the 49ers’ clear-cut starting free safety to a player who enters the final three weeks of the preseason on the roster bubble.

After an impressive ending to his rookie season, Colbert took a significant step back in Year 2. Now, he considers the 2018 season a distant memory, as he tries to build on the player who entered the NFL in 2017 as a hungry seventh-round draft pick.

“I’m trying to get back to my old self -- the one everybody seen in my rookie year,” Colbert said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “I feel like I’m finally back in a good place mentally, physically to go out and perform the way I used to.

“There were a lot of reasons, just a lot of outside stuff that I was dealing with and the way I handled the offseason. Lessons, not losses.”

Colbert said he did not get complacent after locking down the starting job. He said he merely did not work as hard as he could have to prepare himself for a 16-game regular season. He ended up appearing in seven games with six starts and finished the season on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain.

“I’ve prepared tremendously this offseason in ways I wish I would have going into my second year,” Colbert said. “But I didn’t. Got to live it and build myself back up to what I used to be and where I used to be.”

Jimmie Ward, who is returning from a fractured collarbone he sustained in June, and Tarvarius Moore appear to rank ahead of Colbert on the depth chart. Moore played a team-high 70 snaps in the 49ers’ preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Colbert played in just seven snaps after getting disqualified for a targeting infraction.

“There’s a great competition going on in that safety room,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “There are legitimate safeties all over the place in that group. I’m very excited about them.”

Two plays before Colbert was ejected from the game, he made a play that impressed Saleh. Dallas rookie running back Mike Weber broke through the first two levels on a play that Saleh said looked like it would go for 50 yards. But Colbert came flying up from his spot in the deep middle of the field to upend Weber for a 9-yard gain.

On that play, Colbert reached the second-highest game speed on the 49ers (behind wide receiver Deebo Samuel), according to the team’s tracking devices, Saleh said.

“Those are the plays that made him special his rookie year, and when you watch that clip, it was awesome,” Saleh said.

[RELATED: How 49ers DL Buckner has learned from Bennett as a mentor]

Colbert’s regression in his second season is nothing Saleh has not seen previously with other players after successful first years in the NFL.

“Not all of them understand what made them great their first year,” Saleh said. “They think they do, but they forget. They always go into that second year thinking they’ve got it. The three most dangerous words in the NFL are, ‘I’ve got it.’ For him, getting back in touch to what made him great as a rookie.”

Dee Ford has moved on from crucial offsides penalty, even if Chiefs fans haven't


Dee Ford has moved on from crucial offsides penalty, even if Chiefs fans haven't

MIAMI, Fla. – Dee Ford lined up offsides in a crucial moment. It cost the Kansas City Chiefs dearly.

The edge rusher understands that, even without constant reminders from the media during Super Bowl week.

What happened in last year’s AFC Championship game was regrettable. He lined up offsides with a minute left and the Chiefs ahead, negating an interception that would’ve essentially sealed victory.

Ford never got a chance to make up for that moment. He was traded to the 49ers this offseason for a second-round pick and subsequently signed a five-year, $85 million contract with $33 million guaranteed.

Ford doesn't think much about that moment anymore, even if Chiefs fans can't let it go. It apparently bothers Chiefs edge rusher Frank Clark, who has ripped Ford several times for the unforced error even though he wasn’t a Chief when it happened. It’s almost like he’s trying to get in Ford’s head before the 49ers and Chiefs clash Sunday in Super Bowl LIV.

That’s not going to work. Ford has long since moved on.

“In this league and in sports in general, you have to have a short memory,” Ford said this week. “I could’ve let that affect me, but that’s not what champions do. That’s not what great players do. At the end of the day, I know what my responsibility was and I held myself accountable. I was able preserver and get over it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to help Kansas City, but I was able to help my new team perform well and get to a really good situation.”

Ford is in a great situation, with a big-money contract while working with the NFL’s best defensive front. He admits he’s looking forward to playing the team that drafted him No. 23 overall in the Super Bowl.

“Yeah,” Ford said. “You always want to play your old team. I built a lot of great relationships in Kansas City. It should be fun going up against them.”

Saints' Cam Jordan knows 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo can tear defenses up

Saints' Cam Jordan knows 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo can tear defenses up

If there's one thing the 49ers are sick of, it's those doubting their quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The narrative is loud in Miami before Super Bowl LIV: Garoppolo is a game manager while Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is a superstar. 

Mahomes has thrown the ball 70 times for 615 yards in the Chiefs' two playoff wins. Jimmy G has been Mahomes' polar opposite in the postseason. He only has 27 pass attempts for 208 yards in San Francisco's two victories. 

Despite what has been said about Garoppolo, though, New Orleans Saints defensive end Cam Jordan wants to remind everyone that Garoppolo can take over a game. Jordan would know. 

Garoppolo led a last-minute drive to beat the Saints, 48-46, in New Orleans on Dec. 18. He outplayed future Hall of Famer Drew Brees by passing for 349 yards and four touchdowns. It was a statement game in one of the rowdiest environments in all of the NFL. 

"He did things that we weren't aware of at the time," Jordan said Wednesday on ESPN's "Get Up." "Nobody said, 'Oh, Jimmy G is going to tear this defense up' until he played us, and then it was like, 'Hey, he has potential to tear defenses up.' "

While the Chiefs have recorded eight sacks in the playoffs, second to only the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, they are allowing 279 yards passing per game. They also have given up four passing TDs with no interceptions. 

Jordan believes Garoppolo has the weapons around him to have a big game, too. 

"You look at what [Garoppolo] has on offense, you look at Kittle, you look at the whole running back core ... you talk about everything they bring in in Emmanuel Sanders and the addition he's created. They have a lot of weapons," Jordan said. 

[RELATED: Kurt Warner sees key similarity between Jimmy G, Mahomes]

In Garoppolo's last nine regular-season games, he averaged 276.6 yards passing with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. When coach Kyle Shanahan needs him, Jimmy G can let it fly. 

Jordan would know. 

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 3 p.m. Saturday).

Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.