49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan revealed at his presser on Friday that both Jaquiski Tartt (groin) and Jimmie Ward (quadricep) are OUT for their Week 7 matchup with the Patriots.
On the surface, being without their starting safeties is a blow to the defense of the 49ers. They have been the one sound area for the 49ers defensively.
With Ward and Tartt out, that means Tarvarius Moore and Marcell Harris will step into the fold. You can also expect Johnathan Cyprien to be activated off the practice squad and see his first live action on Sunday with the 49ers.
These are three players that are backups by name, but have quality when it comes to face value. With these players holding the fort until Tartt and Ward come back, the defense should not see that big of a drop off.
In fact, I would go as far as to say the 49ers are in good hands with their backup safeties.
Moore, Harris and Cyprien each have experience as starters. Moore and Harris specifically have started for the 49ers and played relatively well. Harris can take on Tartt's role skulking around the box while Moore can shadow the slot and play single-high safety.
Cyprien would be the one player with a bit of concern since he was barely brought on during training camp, but I would not worry about him. The moment Cyprien stepped onto the practice field, he was making the most plays out of everyone in the secondary. It was pretty absurd to see considering he reeled in three interceptions in a matter of just one week of practice.
So Cyprien should fit in quite nicely on Sunday and see a decent amount of run.
On top of these players having the familiarity and the adequate talent to fill in, they will also benefit from their opponent on Sunday. Cam Newton has been quite inconsistent this season as a passer. And while he does have the arm to throw the deep bomb, the Patriots do not have that vertical threat at wide receiver.
Even if they were to try it, the safeties will have the luxury of Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley who were magnificent last week against the Rams on Sunday Night Football.
Much to the dismay of his critics, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has actually done a solid job with his adjustments and adapting to the majority of his key players sustaining injuries. You could even argue he has been better this season than 2019 given all of the shuffling pieces he's had to endure.
This Sunday will prove no different. Luckily for him, he has three backup safeties that he can entrust without going for a full on change.