We’re nearing the end of another week without 49ers football. That’s something I suppose! We are a little over five weeks away from the start of training camp, so that’s a plus. With that in mind, we’re back for another round of the 49ers bubble watch.
Over the next week and a half, we’re going to take a look at each position, and what the bubble watch looks like. As we’ve done for many years now, the bubble watch breaks down to lock, strong bubble, weak bubble, and longshot. For some positions, we'll have multiple players listed at strong bubble, even though not all are likely to make the roster. But the idea is that they both stand a good shot, even if it is just one of them. Thus far, we have looked at quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line,defensive line, outside linebackers, and inside linebackers. Today we look at the cornerbacks.
Lock: Tramaine Brock, Jimmie Ward, Dontae Johnson, Will Redmond, Rashard Robinson
Strong bubble: Kenneth Acker, Marcus Cromartie, Keith Reaser, Chris Davis
Weak bubble: None
Longshot: Prince Charles Iworah
This is an interesting unit, to say the least. We talk about the safety and defensive line units being the deepest, but the potential at cornerback is intriguing to say the least. If the young talent can come together, we could be talking about this group being among the deepest on the team. Of course, there’s a lot to be done before that becomes any kind of reality.
Dontae Johnson would be the one guy some might see as more bubble than lock. His time in the starting lineup last season, replacing Kenneth Acker, does not guarantee anything given the new coaching staff. But with the kind of length he offers, I just can’t see the team cutting him. Maybe they try and trade him if they think Rashard Robinson can replace that, but I don’t see them releasing him.
From that strong bubble group, I see no more than one, maybe two players making the roster. The team kept six cornerbacks last season. From the five locks, Will Redmond is certainly an NFI possibility. But if he is able to get cleared and practicing in training camp, that limits the options further after the first five. Redmond and Ward can both move into the slot. Do you go with a slot guy like Keith Reaser or Chris Davis (who was getting first team slot work for parts of the offseason workout program)? Do they go with more of an outside option? It’s tough to tell right now.
Acker might be the hardest one to figure out. He was in the starting lineup early last season, but then was eventually benched for Dontae Johnson. It’s the same personnel department determining the 53-man roster, but an almost entirely new coaching staff adding their own assessments. It’s a tough call.
Davis is a guy who seemed further down the depth chart heading into OTAs, but the fact that he started getting first team slot reps is rather notable. The 49ers could decide they’ve seen enough and he’ll move back down the depth chart in training camp, but we’ll wait until August to figure out more with regard to him. We have four players listed in strong bubble, but not all four will make it. For now, it’s a matter of who is “strong” strong bubble, and who is “weak” strong bubble.