When I took a look at the San Francisco 49ers' cornerback position following free agency and heading into the 2016 NFL Draft, I said the team needed a "game-changer." I said that the 49ers had a lot of young talent that deserved another season to potentially develop and grow, and I said that any game-changer should not be picked at No. 7 overall.
I did advocate taking a corner in the first round if the 49ers were to trade back or trade up, but that has more to do with me being unconvinced in some of the aforementioned young corners on the roster. I'm not sold on Keith Reaser, I'm not certain Dontae Johnson will ever be used properly, Tramaine Brock is getting worse by the season, Jimmie Ward has only looked good for five games and Kenneth Acker is still pretty raw.
It's a dim, pessimistic view. There are many views like it, but this one is mine.
Anyway, back to the 49ers needing a game-changer. They came close to getting in on said game-changer, as they were reportedly in the Josh Norman sweepstakes after the Carolina Panthers rescinded his franchise tag. Reports suggested the 49ers were one of the serious bidders for Norman's services and that they were willing to pay him top dollar.
I'm very glad the 49ers didn't manage to persuade Norman into coming to San Francisco. He is a game-changer, for certain, but the dollar amounts simply didn't add up. He wanted so much money, and it would have hurt the 49ers for years to come, regardless of salary cap space.
So to reiterate my point about the cornerback position: I don't think the 49ers should dump money into it, but wouldn't be against a top prospect coming to the team via a draft pick. But if that doesn't happen, then the 49ers could still wind up looking good on that front if some of their young players pan out. If Norman comes in then guys like Johnson, Reaser, Acker and Ward may get less of a look.
Brock has hit his ceiling. But he's still got upside for a season or two and it's likely the 49ers would have started Norman and Brock, with Ward playing the nickel. That's three promising, young cornerbacks not seeing the field while the 49ers dump a truckload of money on Norman.
It just wouldn't have been a smart decision however you look at it.