GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 11: Cornerback Tarell Brown #25 of the San Francisco 49ers runs with the football after an interception against the Arizona Cardinals during the thrid quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 21-19. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
It's still early in the league year but there's one thing we know about the 49ers: they're going to have a competitive roster. San Francisco made it a point to address the offense this offseason, but by retaining last years defense and adding bits and pieces here and there, they look to be more competitive in 2012.
One of the most appealing and exciting camp battles to look forward to is at the cornerback position. While Carlos Rogers is the slated and clear cut No. 1 corner in the 49ers secondary, there is going to be a fair amount of competition for the second spot.
While I applaud the year that Tarell Brown had in 2011, his first as a starter, there is a fire underneath him. Brown played very well in the regular season and into the playoffs, but second-year player Chris Culliver has made waves and looks to be competing for Brown's spot.
Culliver has all the physical attributes that you'd want in a starting cornerback. He's taller than most defensive backs at 6'0" and he's got the track speed to go with it. He is also a strong, dominating player who doesn't shy away from physical contact.
But Brown had registered 4 interceptions as the No. 2 cornerback in 2011, and even had an acrobatic one against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Playoff game. But on the other hand, Brown wasn't drafted by Harbaugh and Co., while Culliver was.
It wouldn't be a surprise to see Harbaugh beginning to insert more and more guys from his draft classes, style and preference. Just ask Shawntae Spencer, Joshua Morgan, Adam Snyder, Aubrayo Franklin, Takeo Spikes and so on. Culliver taking Brown's spot could be the next major leap into the Harbaugh era -- not saying Culliver won't earn it, because he will.
This is definitely going to be a fiery competition at 49ers training camp and OTA's; certainly one to keep tabs on. Physically, Culliver has the ability to take this position over and if he progresses well in his second year in this system, and he's on track mentality, the job could be his. I certainly don't want Brown giving it up without a fight because I love the job he did in 2011.
The fact of the matter is, Brown was the starting No. 2 for the leagues best defense last year. Culliver is going to have to make some sort of statement if he wants that starting position opposite Carlos Rogers. Perrish Cox is also a sleeper -- a new player the 49ers brought in who is physically gifted and used to start for the Denver Broncos. This position is going to breed a lot of competition and ultimately results.
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