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It’s probably time for the 49ers to invest heavily in the cornerback position

The 49ers can’t keep ignoring the cornerback position.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers have been reluctant to spend heavily on the cornerback position over the years, and I’m not entirely sure why. Former general manager Trent Baalke was a big believer in acquiring veterans with enough left in the tank to get the job done and I will grant him this: he did well in bringing in a steady stream of effective defensive backs.

That has continued with John Lynch and the new regime signing K’Waun Williams, who has been an effective nickel cornerback. But none of the other cornerbacks on the roster are consistent enough to be starters, especially Rashard Robinson.

I should note that Robinson is actually coming off a good performance against the Colts. He allowed just one catch for 15 yards in six targets, and had a pair of pass breakups, per Pro Football Focus. But his performances to date have been largely uninspired.

Dontae Johnson has been up and down, and on Sunday he was definitely down. He got beat several times, and PFF has him as allowing seven catches on eight targets for 127 yards. I really liked Johnson coming out of college, but he’s already hit his ceiling as far as I’m concerned.

For the past couple years, we’ve talked about Kennetch Acker and Keith Reaser and their potential, and I was never a believer in either of them. Both are off of the 49ers at this point.

Prince Charles Iworah and Will Redmond are on injured reserve, while rookie Ahkello Witherspoon and Asa Jackson are both on the roster. I’m actually a fan of Witherspoon, but I don’t see him as a potential No. 1 cornerback.

Obviously, quarterback is the biggest need going forward. But a high-level cornerback should be second on that list, meaning I think the 49ers need to spend a first-round pick on one if they can in 2018. If not, they need to target a big-name free agent if one exists, or spend a second-round pick.

It’s a position that needs an elite player.