The corner back is still a bit uncertain. It's uncertain as to who exactly will be the two starters at this point
The 49ers released Nate Clements who was considered by some the best corner on the team. In return they went out and got free agent Carlos Rogers from Washington. Rogers was not considered the number one guy for the Redskins as they had DeAngelo Hall who went on to have a Pro Bowl year. However, it was Rogers that primarily matched up against the opposing teams number ones.
With Rogers most likely holding down at least one of the spots, the other remains vacant. Shawntae Spencer not only has a hamstring problem this year, which could possibly bother him through the season if he tries to get back out there too soon, but has been real streaky throughout his career thus far too.
Right now, Tramaine Brock has been receiving the first team reps but got beaten pretty badly a few times against the Saints. The most memorable thing that happened was when he let Robert Meachem slip past him across the middle as he dropped a pass from Drew Brees that would have set up a good opportunity for the Saints to score. Brock has a long way to go if he wants to start in the NFL.
Chris Culliver is a long shot to make it as the starter but showed some impressive skills in last week's game. To add, when he was in the game, you could notice his number in on almost every single play.
The 49ers will probably carry five corners on the team.
With that in mind, would bringing in another veteran be a good idea? There are still guys like Kelvin Hayden on the market. With the Niners salary cap room, it's something that should be at least looked in to.
If you would like to see previews of each player, please follow after the jump by hitting the "continue reading" link below.
Phillip Adams (5'11", 192) - Adams seemed to have an okay game last Friday. He saw some time on special teams and doesn't seem like that would be the best fit. His best fit will primarily be at playing corner. However, with his injury last year, it's hard to say if he will totally recover in time. It appeared at times that it will still be a problem in cutting to keep uo with opposing receivers.
Tramaine Brock (5'10", 197) - He has been doing solid in practices and is taking nearly all the 1st team reps alongside of Carlos Rogers when he is in there. However, as I alluded to in the above section, Brock was getting beat like he stole something against the Saints. He will look to improve against the Raiders who have a decent enough set of receivers as well.
Tarell Brown (5'10", 193) - Brown has never quite emerged as being a front runner for a starting position. As it was last year, he had a hard enough time in some instances playing the nickel position. Brown will probably make the team this year just to provide some veteran presence assuming the Niners don't bring anyone else in at this position.
Chris Culliver (6'0", 199) - For a rookie, Culliver has really shown that he wants to be a starter in this league. He has been all over the field both in practice and last week's game. He is not afraid to get physical (not to be mistaken with physical with an "F") and seems to have very good fluidity in his hips and getting turned around in enough time to defend passes. It doesn't hurt matters that he has been covering Braylon Edwards a lot in practice. I expect to see great things from the rookie this year. Even if he just starts out at the nickel position. He could wind up being one of the steals of the draft.
Phillip Davis (5'10", 173) - I haven't heard too much about Davis up to this point, so my evaluation is incomplete at this point. But in judging by his weight and size, it seems as though it would be a long shot for him to make the team.
Cory Nelms (6'0", 195) - Nelms, per Matt Maiocco is also another long shot to make the team. Although his size is certainly there, it sounds like he is a bit rough around the edges. It's always a long shot if he impresses the coaching staff enough in these next couple games. But ultimately, he could be one of the names we see dropped by August 30th if he doesn't rise to the occasion next week and the week after.
Carlos Rogers (6'0", 192) - The 49ers obviously brought Rogers in to lock down at least one of the corner positions. It's uncertain up to this point as to what level of play he will bring to the table. He has been a little banged up and been on the daily injury reports as of late. One thing about Rogers that he provides that Nate Clements couldn't, is recovery speed. This is an area that the 49ers were really hurt in last year. Not only at the corner positions but the safeties as well. I expect Rogers to be covering the Larry Fitzgerald's and Sidney Rice's in the division this year. It's no easy task, but from what it sounds like, Rogers is up to any challenge all the time.
Shawntae Spencer (6'1", 190) - Spencer's future is really up in the air at this point. He will probably be on the team because he brings some vale in terms of being a veteran. He can help bring along the younger guys rather quickly with his advise. But last year, he was beat far too much. Of course, the safety help over the top was not on par as well. That can go a long way in smashing any confidence a corner may have. If the 49ers don't go out and get another veteran here, we may be stuck with Spencer once again.
Short list of current free agent corners still on the market: Kelvin Hayden, Travon Bellamy, Will Blackmon, Courtney Brown, Quincy Butler, Kevin Dockery, Andre Dyson, Randall Gay, Tye Hill, Ellis Hobbs, Roderick Hood, Will James, Trumaine McBride, Jeremy McGee, Keiwan Ratliff, Lito Sheppard, DeAngelo Smith, Shawn Springs, Nate Vasher, Brian Williams, C.J. Wilson. For more, click on the highlighted section that reads, "free agent corners still on the market".
Expect the 49ers to be a bit better at the corner position. One of the key factors that will indefinitely help will be the upgrade to the safety position. Corners can play a little more aggressive if they have it in the back of their mind that they have solid help over the top. More aggressive play from the corners can in turn lead to more turnovers. More turnover can lead to more wins. And that is the idea. A solid secondary is always going to help the pass rush and vice versa as well.
Overall, I believe that the defense will be much improved as we will see a more aggressive defense. With the personnel the 49ers have on that side of the ball, it very well could be the defense (once again) that helps keep this team in ball games. The offense will be improved, no doubt, but it's not expected that the 49ers will be a juggernaut on that side of the ball putting up 30+ points a game.