2009 Roster Projections: Cornerbacks

Yesterday's news that Walt Harris sprained his knee in practice had me thinking now was as good a time as any to take care of our roster projections for the cornerback position.  Up till now we've handled the defensive line, offensive line and running backs.

Walt Harris is 34 and seen his performance decrease each year since his Pro Bowl season in 2006.  The 49ers have attempted to develop younger talent and have been touch and go thus far.

Locks
Nate Clements, Walt Harris, Tarell Brown, Reggie Smith

Highly Doubtful
Carlos Thomas, Jahi Word-Daniels, Terrail Lambert

Bubble
Shawntae Spencer, Marcus Hudson

I included Reggie Smith in this group even though he's likely to see most of his playing time at safety.  Given the talent and potential injuries out there (I'm talking to you Spencer), I could see Smith moving back and forth, even if that's not the best idea in the world.

As you can see, I've listed both Spencer and Hudson in the bubble column.  I've been a big Spencer apologist the past few years.  I see a ton of potential in a nickel back role and he just keeps on getting injured.  Rotoworld had an interesting comment a couple months ago when they said:

49ers CB Shawntae Spencer is a candidate to be released this offseason.
Spencer's cap number is close to $3.5 million, and he's due a $500,000 roster bonus. Coming off an injury-plagued season and no longer viewed as a starter, Spencer's days in San Fran are numbered.

It was based on a San Francisco Chronicle article that stated Spencer might be seen as a salary liability.  While he hasn't been cut yet, I am curious to see how what happens with him this season.  Spencer is signed through 2012, but if he were to get hurt again, could you see the 49ers cutting him after this season?  I definitely think that's a distinct possibility.  He's injury-prone and likely has been passed on the depth chart by Tarell Brown.

Speaking of Tarell Brown, I like to think his time is coming soon.  Walt Harris is a free agent after this season.  Even if Brown isn't the replacement, I don't see the 49ers bringing Harris back.  However, given that the team did not pick up a cornerback in the draft, do you think that they think Tarell Brown is their long term answer?

We had a rather brief discussion about the corners back in January and I thought I'd carry that poll over here and see what people think at this point.  It's the same exact, poll but I'd like to see what people think at this point after a draft that included only undrafted free agent cornerbacks.

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