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Whither Shawntae Spencer?

One guy who seems to get lost in the shuffle pretty easily is 49ers cornerback Shawntae Spencer.  It's easy to see why that's happened: Since playing in 16 games his rookie season, Spencer has seen his games played number drop each season to 15, 13, 11 and finally 2 last season.  He blew out his knee early on last season and that was the end of it.

The 49ers cornerback situation currently sits somewhere around questionable.  I do like Dre Bly, but he did struggle last season.  Our own Nate Clements was eaten alive at times, leaving us to wonder what's up with our corners.  And, of course, no matter how talented you might be, if you're forced to run around all day waiting for a sack that will never come....well, that's just not going to end well.

Given the injury to Walt Harris, where will Spencer end up fitting in?  I thought that heading into last year, he was destined to a career as a nickel back.  Not a bad position to be in certainly.  However, it's clear that he's just not #1 material.  When we did the roster projections for cornerback, I actually put Spencer on the bubble.  Given his salary (a nice little extension through 2012), it's reasonable to think he could have been a cap casualty.

Of course, the Walt Harris injury changed that.  Bly and Tarell Brown will be battling for that second starting position.  I do like Spencer, but I just don't see him emerging as a starter anymore.  Throw in the fact that he probably won't be fully recovered from his ACL injury until training camp, and it makes it that much more difficult.

So, given that, what does his future look like in San Francisco?  Consider both this season and long term.   He's 27 years old.  It's questionable where he's at on the odomoter given how often he gets nicked up.  However, his salary is rather cap friendly.  His base salaries are in the $3 million range each season.  On the one hand, you get some solid talent cheap.  On the other hand, if you decide to cut him, it really won't hurt you cap-wise.

So what do you do with Shawntae Spencer?