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49ers uncharacteristically active in making changes at cornerback

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Previous regimes didn’t seem to value the position as much as the current one.

San Francisco 49ers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers haven’t put an emphasis on the cornerback position for a long time — or at least that’s my read on the situation. For years, the team seemed to roll with whatever was available at the position, giving guys like Kenneth Acker and Keith Reaser far more playing time than expected.

Sometimes it worked out. Tramaine Brock was a homegrown talent who was very effective. Perrish Cox was even good for a little bit. The 49ers actually were fairly decent at the position for some time, but I can’t say for certain that had anything to do with them making smart moves. Strong linebackers and strong safeties covered up a lot of the issues.

Now, though, the 49ers are making moves. They moved on from the dead weight, and they backed a guy they believed in with Rashard Robinson. That move didn’t pan out, but it didn’t seem like they were just trying to put whatever bodies they could onto the field. Robinson struggled, and the 49ers made a decision to start rookie Ahkello Witherspoon in his place.

They also acquired K’Waun Williams, who has been a very dependable nickle corner, as far as I’m concerned.

On Tuesday, the 49ers traded Robinson to the New York Jets. They liked him in practice, they gave him every opportunity to succeed, and they moved on from him when they found it wasn’t working. They felt like Witherspoon was a better for for their scheme, and convinced the Jets it was worth trading.

I don’t know how much the 49ers will be looking to upgrade the position in the offseason, but I hope it’s plenty. A shutdown corner is rare in the NFL, but it’s something the 49ers need. They have invested heavily in the defensive line and linebackers, but without paying the proper respect to the cornerback position, good receivers will beat them every time.