Isaiah Oliver

Oliver ready to step in at safety if banged-up 49ers need him

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SANTA CLARA — The 49ers have lost depth at safety, but Isaiah Oliver is ready to step in if necessary.

San Francisco has had a mostly healthy 2023 season thus far but lost All-Pro safety Talanoa Hufanga to a season-ending ACL injury in Week 11.

Four days later, backup safety and special teams standout George Odum suffered a torn biceps during the 49ers' 31-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 12.

“If they need that to happen, that’s something I can do,” Oliver told NBC Sports Bay Area. “But hopefully we can stay healthy this week.”

Oliver has spent most of his time as the slot corner while on defense but has the tackling skills necessary to play in the box as a run-stopper. Through 11 appearances this season, Oliver has been on the field for 369 defensive snaps — 310 lined up as the nickel back.

The University of Colorado product has registered 44 tackles — 27 solo, two for a loss, two pass breakups, and one interception. Oliver feels like his versatility allows him to fill in wherever there is a need.

“That’s just how the NFL season goes,” Oliver said. “Usually takes a big group of guys in the DB room to play here and there. I feel like that is something we are prepared for. If it happens, I feel like we have the right pieces to be able to get through the game and still play at a high level that we are capable of playing at.”

Rookie Ji’Ayir Brown has successfully stepped in alongside veteran safety Tashaun Gipson, and Oliver has been impressed by his young counterpart but not surprised. The rookie has already registered eight tackles, three pass breakups, and an interception since being thrust into the mix.

“Man, he’s been phenomenal,” Oliver said. “Just came in and was ready to go. You kind of already knew because of the way he practices. You can see it out there, and he’s a really smart guy. We’ve been super proud and impressed.

“Balled out in his first game against the Bucs and again really well in this last game. Hoping he can keep that going and just get better each week.”

The 49ers secondary faces the tough challenge of slowing down Philadelphia Eagles top wideout A.J. Brown on Sunday. The All-Pro already has over 1,000 receiving yards nd 73 receptions this season.

Oliver hopes the secondary and the entire roster stay healthy throughout the contest, which could shape the top of the NFC playoff picture.

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