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 have seen significant turnover at the cornerback position the last few years. We’ve seen Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox, and others depart in free agency. Tramaine Brock got a contract extension, but otherwise the team has continued investing draft picks in the position. This year, they added Will Redmond and Rashard Robinson in the third and fourth round, and Prince Charles Iworah in the seventh round. Additionally, the team has moved Jimmie Ward outside after spending his first two seasons as a nickel back. It raises questions about the team’s additions back in 2014, but at the very least, it certainly improves the depth.
In 2014, the 49ers also spent three draft picks on cornerbacks. They used a fourth on Dontae Johnson, a fifth on Keith Reaser, and a sixth on Kenneth Acker. The team has seemed high on Acker much of the last two years, but there were still some questions. The team stashed him on injured reserve back in 2014. He played in the preseason, and while it is possible he suffered a true season-ending injury, it is also possible he suffered an injury and the team used it as an excuse to place him on IR. It costs an accrued season, but it kept him around and off waivers.
That was followed by Acker grabbing the starting job opposite Tramaine Brock in 2015. He started 13 of the first 14 games, missing one game due to injury. However, he was demoted for the final two games of the regular season, with Dontae Johnson moving into the lineup. Acker was not an awful cornerback, but I was surprised he beat out Johnson earlier in the year. Acker is a very solidly built cornerback, but Johnson has more of the length that teams like.
Age: 24 (22 on September 20)
Experience: 2 accrued seasons
Weight: 195 lbs
He is entering year three of his four-year rookie contract. He is due a base salary of $600,000, with a cap hit of $630,150. He has a chance to get a boost on his fourth year salary through the proven performance escalator, depending on his 2016 snap count.
Why he might improve in 2016
He’s got 13 games of starting experience under his belt. The team has young talent coming in, but given the youth on this team, a little experience is a big plus. His footwork and instincts are fairly on point, so it could be that another year gets him to a point where he can get back into the starting lineup permanently.
Why he might regress in 2016
Press coverage was an issue coming out of college, and it’s something that could be an issue this season. The addition of Rashard Robinson, in particular, strikes me as a sign the team is not wildly enthused with Acker. It could be just an opportunity the team could not pass by, but my guess is they were not sufficiently pleased with his 13 games last year.
Odds of making the roster
Even with the 13 games of starter snaps, Acker is on the bubble. Moving Ward outside and adding Rashard Robinson does not bode well for Acker. I think he has a solid chance of making the roster, but he’s not a lock. We could very well see Ward and Brock starting, with Johnson, Robinson, and Reaser (and Redmond, if healthy) as the primary backups. I’m curious to see if the team gives him slot work in the preseason. If they do, it boosts his chances, if he’s just playing on the outside, I could see him getting cut or traded.