All of these so far have been offensive players. It wasn't really by design, I always put these together as a spur of the moment type of deal. It just always has worked out this way. So I figured, why not take a look at a defensive player? So I may as well start with someone like cornerback Nate Clements.
Perhaps the biggest knock on Nate isn't even related to how he plays on the field. It's his contract, he makes an obscene amount of money for what he actually brings. It's not enough, he doesn't play well enough to earn that contract. Should we just cut bait? No, we shouldn't do that, but there's not an argument out there FOR Nate and his salary being worth it.
Still, the criticisms he's received are a bit unfounded in my mind. Is he worth that huge salary? No. Is he a bad cornerback? Certainly not. Nate is probably the best corner in the league at shutting down the run and the screen on his side of the field. When he was injured last season, suddenly screens were going for five, ten, fifteen and twenty yards no problem because Nate wasn't there to sniff them out.
In pass coverage, he leaves some to be desired, and that's really all his fault more than anything. The guy calls himself "lockdown" and he's anything but. He'll cover a guy and shut him down for half the day an then he'll give up a huge play. It's just what he does. Can he stop doing that? Yeah, I think he can. Is this year that year? Me personally, yeah I think it is. Make the jump for the confidence levels.
Very High: Nate "Lockdown" Clements earns his nickname, starting every game at the left cornerback position. Pretty self explanatory.
High: Nate gets some leway, but not much. He isn't lockdown, but he's good - the best corner on the team like we know he can be. We'll say four+ interceptions and why not throw in one of those rad blocked field goals ran back for a touchdown since he already has two of them.
Medium: Get's between two and three interceptions and beyond some bright spots doesn't look great. Still might be our best cornerback because the unit as a whole is our weakest unit, but all-in-all, performing at "medium" level is a sign that Nate Clements isn't worth his contract. Still, he's starting caliber around the league and isn't detrimental to the 49ers success in 2010.
Low: He's far from lockdown, and it's clear. He isn't the team's best corner, and Nate further digs into this "funk" that he was in last year. We saw him look confused and upset, things were just piling on and they will continue to do so. He'll get a pick, maybe - and he might just shut down the screen or two, but faster receivers will abuse him and he will play well below expectations. This one is still a possibility, depending on his mentality right now.
Very Low: Karl Pay - nah. I'm just kidding. How about... Keith Smith. Yeah, that one is fitting.