SANTA CLARA – It’s the 53-man roster or bust for veteran safety Johnathan Cyprien, whom the 49ers signed to a one-year contract last week.
The 49ers have signed a handful of veteran players since the opening of training to compete for roster spots. This year, due to a special rule to cope with the potential challenges of COVID-19, NFL teams are allowed to keep up to six veteran players on their expanded 16-player practice squads.
Therefore, such players are recent veteran additions Cyprien, Tavon Austin, J.J. Nelson, Jaron Brown and Hroniss Grasu can stick on the 49ers’ practice squad if they do not make the team’s opening 53-man roster.
But that option is of no interest to Cyprien, according to the man himself.
“To be honest with you, no, I wouldn’t be on the practice squad,” Cyprien said during a video call with the Bay Area media.
That is a decision some veteran players will have to make around the NFL.
If Cyprien wins a spot on the 49ers’ roster, he will collect his scheduled $910,000 salary for the season. But he would make $204,000 as a member of the practice squad. Cyprien has career earnings of approximately $19 million during his seven-year NFL career.
Cyprien has started all 70 of the games in which he appeared over his first five seasons with Jacksonville and Tennessee. He missed all of the 2018 season with a torn ACL, and he appears to have made a complete recovery this summer after spending time with Philadelphia and Atlanta last season.
Cyprien has been a playmaker in training camp with three interceptions. But he finds himself in a fight for a roster spot with Tarvarius Moore and Marcell Harris behind starters Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt.
He said he feels a sense of urgency to make an impression every day in practice.
“Stepping into a new area, you kind of have to prove yourself,” Cyprien said. “It doesn’t matter what your resume says about yourself, you kind of have to go out and show people who you are, and not talk about it. For myself, personally, I just try to go out and have fun, and play to the best of my ability.”