Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but you get the idea.
The San Francisco 49ers invested some significant draft capital in their cornerbacks earlier this offseason, selecting Will Redmond (3rd), Rashard Robinson (4th), and Prince Charles Iworah (7th). The team was relatively young at the position already, but clearly wanted to boost the depth and shake things up a bit. The team entered the offseason with Tramaine Brock starting on one side, and a 2015 season that saw Kenneth Acker starting for most of the season, and Dontae Johnson taking over later in the year. Jimmie Ward moved outside in OTAs, and now seems a likely candidate to start opposite Brock.
The 49ers signed Brock in 2010 as an undrafted free agent out of then NAIA (now Division III) Belhaven. Brock earned a roster spot in training camp, and focused on special teams early in his career. He got some cornerback time during his first three seasons, but it was not until 2013 they he got a crack at the starting lineup due to various injuries on the roster. He clearly impressed the front office, as the two sides agreed on a four-year contract extension in November of that season.
Brock’s first full season as a starter was a bit of a mess as injuries resulted in him only playing three games in 2014. However, he played in 15 games, missing only the Week 9 contest against the Atlanta Falcons. He is not the kind of lock-down guy people look for, but he was a very capable cornerback. Pro Football Focus gave him a +3.9 coverage grade, which was good for No. 29 out of 81 full-time cornerbacks. His passer rating allowed was 85.0, which was good for No. 28 out of 81 full-time cornerbacks. They’re not spectacular lock-down cornerback numbers, but for the price the 49ers are paying, it’s solid.
Age: 27 (28 on August 20)
Experience: 6 accrued seasons
Weight: 197 lbs
Entering third season of four-year contract extension signed in 2013. His base salary is $2.7 million, and he has roster bonuses worth $320,000, and a workout bonus of $130,000. His cap hit for 2016 is $3,880,000.
Why he might improve in 2016
Although he moved into the starting lineup late in 2013, injuries throughout 2014 meant that last season was actually the first one where he started with regularity. It is reasonable to think that Brock is still developing his craft. I don’t think we’ll ever see a true lockdown corner in Brock, but with an improved pass rush in 2016, that could bode well for Brock. That doesn’t necessarily mean he is the improved one, but a strong pass rush can always benefit the secondary. Combine that with potentially improving on his craft, and an improved 2016 could be in the cards.
Why he might regress in 2016
The flip side to that is that we could already see what his peak is. I don’t think regression is necessarily in the cards, but we might just not see improvement. Jim Harbaugh used to say that you’re either moving forward or backward, you’re never standing still. If Brock is not showing improvement, the addition of more young talent could be problematic for his long-term future.
Odds of making the roster
I see virtually no way he is cut. However, I would not be entirely shocked if the team ended up trading Brock. If they are pleased with Rashard Robinson’s development, or think Dontae Johnson or Kenneth Acker could build on last year, it might make sense to unload Brock. I don’t think we see a trade, but it’s on my radar for the time-being. But in all likelihood, Brock is on the roster Week 1, and starting with Jimmie Ward.