The position high on many people's draft needs list for the San Francisco 49ers is cornerback. The team is turning over their starting cornerbacks for the second straight season. A year ago, Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown departed. This year, Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox are out the door. A year ago things worked out OK as Culliver and Cox proved quite capable in starting roles. This year, there's talent there, but we don't know what will happen with it.
The 49ers current cornerback depth chart includes the following:
Jimmie Ward was the team's nickel back, but he also could eventually end up as one of the two safeties. Antoine Bethea is not going anywhere this year, so Ward likely spends the whole year handling nickel duties. Ward's versatility creates some confusion as to where we list him. James talked about it in the safety discussion, and it applies to cornerback as well. It's like he just sort of "exists".
If we assume Ward will be handling nickel duties, the question becomes who will be the two outside corners. Tramaine Brock seems a strong bet to have one of the jobs, assuming he can stay healthy. Toe, hamstring and other injuries cost him a lot of time in 2014. There is no indication he is not good to go, but I guess we'll have to wait and see what OTAs, minicamp and training camp bring.
After that, it's a toss-up. Dontae Johnson had the most playing time last year with the 49ers from that remaining group. And of course there is then Shareece Wright. The team gave him a $1.5 million signing bonus on a one-year deal. That is not a monstrous amount, but it is certainly sizable enough to figure he will factor into the mix for a starting role.
Beyond that, there is a lot of interesting talent with question marks. Chris Cook showed some things before an injury ended his season. Marcus Cromartie and Leon McFadden have a little bit of draft pedigree. Kenneth Acker and Keith Reaser are part of the redshirt all stars, with Acker looking solid in training camp last year before an "injury" ended his season.
And yet, some people still see the 49ers investing a first round pick in the position. I do think the team adds another cornerback to the mix, but I'm just not seeing it coming at the top of the draft. The team has enough needs, and Trent Baalke has not been one to invest highly in the cornerback position. He has seemingly had an eye for under the radar talent.
Here is a rundown of the top 25 cornerbacks, according to Poldarn's consensus rankings. The 49ers have brought in at least five cornerbacks for official visits, while having private meetings and workouts with a handful more. Will we see the 49ers go hard at the cornerback position, or do you think the current group is enough for 2015?
1. Trae Waynes, Michigan State
2. Marcus Peters, Washington
3. Jalen Collins, LSU
4. P.J. Williams, Florida State
5. Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest
6. Quinten Rollins, Miami (OH)
7. Eric Rowe, Utah
8. Ronald Darby, Florida State
9. Byron Jones, Connecticut
10. Alex Carter, Stanford
11. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
12. Josh Shaw, USC
13. D'Joun Smith, Florida Atlantic
14. Steven Nelson, Oregon State
15. Doran Grant, Ohio State
16. Senquez Golson, Ole Miss
17. Kevin White, TCU
18. Jacoby Glenn, UCF
19. Lorenzo Doss, Tulane
20. Charles Gaines, Louisville
21. Quandre Diggs, Texas
22. Ladarius Gunter, Miami (FL)
23. Nick Marshall, Auburn
24. Craig Mager, Texas State
25. JaCorey Shepherd, Kansas