49ers beat writer Matt Barrows put together a post today indicating that cornerback Phillip Adams is ahead of schedule in rehab as he looks to rebound from his brutal ankle injury last season. Adams broke his left ankle and appeared doomed to miss a sizable chunk of offseason training. As Barrows points out, a seventh round pick cannot afford to miss much practice or he quickly becomes "out of sight, out of mind."
Before the injury, Phillip Adams had shown a fair amount of promise. He spent a sizable chunk of his time on special teams, but from what I can remember he looked rather solid when he received opportunities in the secondary. He's got a lot of work to do to work his way into consistent playing time. However, if he can get as close to 100% healthy as possible by the time the lockout ends, he could be in a position to make a name for himself in the the Vic Fangio defense.
Given the 49ers concerns in the secondary, it will be all hands on deck once training camp actually begins. The 49ers drafted two cornerbacks in this year's draft: Chris Culliver in the third round and Curtis Holcomb in the seventh round. While we wait to see what the 49ers might or might not do in free agency, we can still look at the corners currently in place.
Prior to the draft, the top four corners on the team were Nate Clements, Shawntae Spencer, Tarell Brown, and Will James. When training camp gets going, competition will likely include some of all of those four (pending Clements' contract, and James' free agent status) along with Culliver, Holcomb, Adams, and Tramaine Brock. The question is what kind of playing time the latter four will be competing for as compared to the first four.
Depending on how free agency plays out, I'd imagine the 49ers probably let Will James walk. However, that still leaves an interesting battle for the third and fourth cornerback positions. Holcomb's best roster chance right now would likely be on special teams. If Adams is sufficiently healthy by the start of training camp his one year of playing time will give him a sizable advantage over Holcomb, even with the new Fangio defense.
How do you think the depth chart emerges at the cornerback position? I realize several significant roster changes could very well happen between now and training camp. Nonetheless I'm curious how you at least rank these corners in terms of expected playing time as the roster currently stands.