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Cyprien already adding to 49ers' competition at safety

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Johnathan Cyprien
Johnathan Cyprien
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SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers’ depth chart at safety would appear set for the 2020 season.

But newly signed veteran Johnathan Cyprien could at least make those decisions a little more difficult.

"[He’s] just another piece to the puzzle to see how we can get a little bit better,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said Friday.

Saleh spent three seasons with Cyprien while with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2014 to ’16.

Cyprien started all 60 games in which he appeared in his four seasons with the Jaguars after coming to the team as a second-round pick (No. 44 overall) in 2013. He registered more than 100 tackles each season in Jacksonville.

“Sometimes I feel like you can be underappreciated because of your draft status -- they expect a little bit more out of you,” Saleh said. “We always felt Cyp was a very good football player.”

The 49ers signed Cyprien this week to a one-year contract.

In his second practice after signing with the club, Cyprien on Friday intercepted a Nick Mullens pass. Rookie receiver Jauan Jennings, the intended receiver, did not turn to look for the ball deep down the middle, and Cyprien ranged over to make the pick.

Cyprien, 30, is attempting to come all the way back from a torn ACL he sustained in training camp two years ago while with the Tennessee Titans. He missed all of the 2018 season. Cyprien played in just five games last year with the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles.


The 49ers have reason to like their starting safeties, Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt. And they also appear to have confidence in young backups Tarvarius Moore and Marcell Harris.

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Saleh said the addition of Cyprien is no reflection on the returning players. But teams have the added luxury this season of being able to carry six veteran players on their practice squads.

“He’s been a productive player,” Saleh said. “He knows our system. He’s in great shape. He moves very well. And the expectation for him is to come out and compete.

“You’re never going to restrict roster spots with numbers, but he’s a talented football player and his ability to come in and compete and push guys, you can never have too many good football players. And he’s a good football player.”