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Niners Nation #Channel49 Twitter Q&A Mailbag, Vol. 19: Eric Wright, Cornerback Depth & More

Mere minutes before we began the chat session it was reported that the 49ers had acquired San Francisco native, cornerback Eric Wright, from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a conditional late draft pick. It added another capable body to an already jumbled position group. Understandably, most of the talk session centered around this most current of events.

Carlos Rogers hears the rumors..."Who said that?"
Carlos Rogers hears the rumors..."Who said that?"

Another day, another steal of a deal by Baalke. This trade may or may not work out. If Wright makes the roster, it's a success. If he becomes one of our top three cornerbacks, it's a steal. Reading a lot of comments around the web I noticed fans of the Bucs and other teams asking what the heck is a late pick good for. If you're Trent Baalke it gets you Super Bowl winners who will probably lead your team in receiving. Or, in this case, Eric Wright.

Woods' Words of Wisdom

From top to bottom of the depth chart, this could be one of the best cornerback competitions in the NFL. This could turn out to be a good thing for the 49ers, as players will separate themselves from the pack and solidify their roster spot. Chris Culliver and Tarell Brown aren't in danger of being cut, but the others spots are up in the air. Newly acquire Eric Wright, Carlos Rogers, Nnamdi Asomugha, Perrish Cox, Tramaine Brock, and Marcus Cooper all will be fighting with each other to keep their spot on the 53 man roster.

In all, the 49ers could keep up to six corners, but I expect five on the 53 man roster. Training camp is right around the corner, and that is when the competition will really start. Who will prevail and make the team? Eric Wright may have the biggest uphill battle of the group, he needs to learn the defense in a hurry, or he's going to be behind the eight ball.

Chemistry off the field can be just as important as chemistry on the gridiron. I liken this to people who do business outside of the office, work never truly ends. Kaepernick and Lockette are buddies and have fun hanging out, but with a determined guy like Kaepernick, things aren't always fun and games. It's safe to say Kap is picking Lockette's brain about the playbook and talking scheme and football A LOT, that's what football players do, they talk football. Quarterbacks need a receiver they can trust, and it's cool that Kap trusts Lockette off the field, which can translate to trusting him when the games matter. Lockette will have to show he is a capable player before we read too much into the chemistry, but hanging out with Kap off the field isn't a bad thing. It will boil down to Lockette's performance if he even makes the roster or gets playing time, but it always helps when you have the quarterback in your corner.

Malone's Muck

Firstly, I love the move. Eric Wright has some issues off the field. His four game suspension for PEDs at the end of last season cost him his guaranteed salary and ultimately facilitated this trade. He's also been arrested twice for DUI, though the first one did not result in charges. This second one should not result in a suspension (seeing as the first resulted in nothing) unless Roger Goodell decides to go above and beyond and punish him for repeated knuckleheaded-ness. But Eric Wright can play. He didn't display it last season with the Bucs, but the year before, in Detroit, he was a key contributor on their defense, helping them return to the playoffs for the first time since Bobby Layne.

What can we expect this year? Hard to say. He had something to prove the year he played for the Lions, having been signed to a one-year deal with the hopes of earning a larger payday. It worked. He's playing for his hometown team (he's from SF's Hunter's Point) and is on his fourth team in four years. If this doesn't work out for him, there's a good chance that he might not get any calls next year. As for what he brings, he's regarded as a solid slot corner and capable of being a No. 2. Predicting who will start is near impossible at this point. There is a lot to sort out at the position. I'm going to say Brown and Wright (more on this below), for the sake of saying something and getting some angry comments directed my way.

I won't put a percentage on it, but I do think Carlos Rogers is going to get cut. Exact cap numbers are always hard to come by, but what I've read is that we'll save $5 million by cutting Rogers, with under $3 million becoming dead. If Wright can perform at the same level, which is not a stretch considering Carlos' subpar play in '12, we should see Rogers get the axe. One of the big arguments in favor of keeping Rogers was that he was the only one of the conceivable starting four (Nnamdi, Brown, Culliver) that had experience covering the slot. He covered it poorly, but he still covered it. Now, with Wright on board, Carlos no longer holds the monopoly on slotty-ness. That, coupled with his high salary, makes me think his days are numbered. A team this stacked can always use that extra money, whether it be to front-load a contract extension for a young star or add a veteran somewhere else.

What is going to happen? I have no idea. I do think Carlos gets cut, but that's just my feeling. I don't guarantee it. We have a lot to learn about the situation at this point. The Wright trade came as a massive shock to us all, but we can assume it was made because the staff was unhappy with position group as it stood. If Nnamdi and Cully were the starters in Week 1 it would not shock me. It won't surprise me if Rogers is kept. There's so much to consider and evaluate at this point.

At the start of voluntary team activities, Tarell Brown chose to stay away and voiced unhappiness about his contract situation. He and Cully are the two who I feel are certain to be on the roster, but some in the media have hinted that Brown may hold out. We'll see if he reports on July 24th. Both Nnamdi and Wright have no guaranteed money, so will be easy to cut, or cheap to keep. Cully is the only cornerback we have with any reasonable upside. Rogers, as mentioned, is extremely over payed, but is well liked and has been a leader in the secondary. Perrish Cox and Tramaine Brock were at the bottom of the depth chart last year, and that was before two veterans were added. It's not as easy as simply pushing them off the radar. It doesn't make financial sense for a team to have a No. 5 CB who doesn't play special teams and makes $3 million.

So, for predictions. Brown shows up and continues his consistent play to win the No. 1 job. Wright beats out Rogers at the slot, making Rogers expendable. Culliver is the No. 3 again, but will challenge Wright for the No. 2. Wright plays the slot regardless of whether or not he's No. 2 or 3. As for Nnamdi, he's got to prove that he's worth the higher salary than Cox and Brock, who can both play special teams. I think he does and is in the mix all year. Cox and Brock battle it out for No. 5 with Brock winning. Whew!

I'd like to see your predictions in the comments.

I think A.J. Jenkins and Glenn Dorsey will win those hypothetical awards. Jenkins is the easy one, as he can't really regress from a zero catch season. He should be the No. 2 or No. 3 receiver at the start of the season, allowing him to get plenty of opportunities. Not performing is really not an option for him at this point. The team needs him to step up and another bad year sees him labeled as a bust. I think we see 40 catches, 700 yards and some scores out of him, a definite improvement from 2012.

Dorsey was much maligned during his time in Kansas City. When we signed him, after reading some of what their bloggers had to say about him, that seemed as much to do with expectations as performance. He may not have lived up to his high draft selection but he was consistent. He's not going to get big stats (sacks) but he does his job and will be working under one of the best positional coaches in the league in Jim Tomsula. He can play nose tackle, though he may be a bit undersized, 3-4 DE, and DT on a 4-man line. We'll probably see him play all of those during the course of the year. I don't expect him to wow us much, but I expect we hear a lot of his teammates and coaches giving him credit for play and unselfishness. In short, an unsung hero type on a much improved, deeper defensive line.

Being a Sheep

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