Here at Niners Nation, we're presenting a series called "90-in-90". We'll be looking at every player on the San Francisco 49ers offseason roster, one player per post, from now until the start of training camp.
The 49ers cornerback position will feature one of the toughest battles for roster spots and playing time. The big four in this group are Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Chris Culliver and Nnamdi Asomugha, and they are the guys strongly favored to handle the bulk of the cornerback playing time. However, the 49ers do have depth further down that will attempt to secure a roster spot and potentially some playing time in the secondary. Last week we talked about Perrish Cox, and today we move on to Tramaine Brock.
Brock is coming off a season in which he was a staple of the special teams, but saw his cornerback playing time decrease. He finished the season with 21 defensive snaps (1.98% of available snaps) and 282 special teams snaps (63.37%). In 2011, Brock had 88 defensive snaps and 154 special teams snaps. The difference from 2011 to 2012 was the addition of Perrish Cox. He played 150 snaps (15.09%) as the primary dime back behind Rogers, Brown and Culliver.
Brock was originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010, and was the first UDFA to earn a roster spot in five years. As a rookie he appeared in three games, followed by 11 games his second season and then all 16 games last year. The fact that he was active the entire season and saw his defensive snaps drop would not seem to bode well for him in 2013.
Brock was a small school product, signed out of Bellhaven from the NAIA. We found some scouting reports back in 2010 that are worth a glance.
What to expect in 2013
Brock's roster spot is far from secure, given the addition of Nnamdi Asomugha. The 49ers added some younger talent as well, but for purposes of defensive playing time, Brock is running out of options. If Asomugha is unable to secure one of the top three roles, he would find himself competing with Cox and Brock for that dime role. After the dime back, there really are few playing time opportunities for a fifth cornerback.
The 49ers will likely keep a fifth cornerback, but it will be a guy who focuses primarily on special teams. That is of course right in Brock's wheelhouse. The 49ers cover unit struggled at times last year, so we'll see how that reflects on him. But, if Brock makes the roster, he is likely to get the bulk of his work with the special teams units. He will be one to watch in training camp and the preseason given the competition at cornerback, but I would be surprised if he emerged past Cox and Asomugha.
Odds of making the roster
The 49ers signed Brock to a one-year deal this year as a restricted free agent. They have no long-term responsibilities to him, so if they can find a cheaper option for special teams, they could very well decide on that. He's making $1.33 million a year, which isn't a lot in the grand scheme of the NFL.
That being said, the 49ers brought in several young cornerbacks in guys like Marcus Cooper, Lowell Rose, Darryl Morris and others. If the 49ers can find a guy who can step up on special teams and potential develop a bit as a cornerback, they might just decide to part ways with Brock. I think right now he probably makes the roster, but it's going to be a dog fight.