Thus far, we've taken a look at the tight end and running back positions, and both times, the San Francisco 49ers have come up on top. I believe those rankings to be unbiased, though I myself, obviously, am biased. If I was doing biased rankings, I probably wouldn't even attempt this post.
But I am. Today, we're going to rank the cornerback positions within the NFC West. Now, I have to state right now that I think the 49ers aren't in a dire situation at the position, but it's certainly not an enviable one for some other teams out there, including the majority of our division.
Let's just get to it.
Say what you want about the type of character displayed in the Seattle secondary, and say what you want about their style of play: the Seahawks have some really good cornerbacks. The hype of Antoine Winfield is a little inflated, but they'd have one of the best groups of corners in the NFL even without Winfield, due to the progression of both Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.
Sherman is quickly budding into one of the NFL's best cornerbacks. He's not there yet, but he's close, and Seattle has to be confident any time they have him matched up against another team's No. 1 receiver. Sherman shuts the opposing receiver down, and he's not afraid to do what he needs to do to make it happen.
What else is there to say? It's not even close, like the running back position was.
The Rams had one of the worst groups of cornerbacks in the NFL just a few short seasons ago, but they've taken serious steps in remedying the situation. Cortland Finnegan isn't at the top of his game anymore, but he's still a solid No. 1 corner.
Janoris Jenkins, on the other hand, is well on his way to a productive NFL career. Whether or not he's fallen short of early expectations is entirely dependent on what you were expecting. At this point he's looking like a solid No. 2 and a potential No. 1 going forward. The depth beyond the top two isn't great, however.
To this point, Patrick Peterson has been a better NFL return man than an NFL cornerback. But he's been getting better every season, and Antoine Cason is what you want out of a No. 2 guy for the most part. Peterson should only improve from here and the Cardinals should keep him on opposing No. 1 receivers.
Tyrann Mathieu is the x-factor here. I still don't get how a guy can get half as many chances as he did, when other players fell all the way out of the draft for less, especially given what I think is somewhat unremarkable college tape, especially over the past season.
That said, all the tools are there for Mathieu. If he can keep himself in line, he could wind up being a very good cornerback in the NFL.
Well, here we are. Let me just say that I think Carlos Rogers is a solid corner, and that i believe the Philadelphia Eagles used Nnamdi Asomugha in all the wrong ways. I think Asomugha will end up being San Francisco's top corner, and I think it will work out.
But my own optimism aside, it's easy to see why cornerback is the weakest position on the 49ers. Chris Culliver's ability is exaggerated by 49ers fans greatly, and Rogers is fading fast after a brief career revival. Tarell Brown has always been maddeningly inconsistent and Asomugha has a lot to prove.
The 49ers were one of the top teams in the league in stopping opposing pass defenses last season, but a lot of that had to do with strong safety play. This isn't a lost cause, just the weakest unit on the team and accordingly, the weakest cornerback position in the division.