clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ahkello Witherspoon is the 49ers best cornerback

The 49ers third round pick is emerging into a presence in the secondary.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

The San Francisco 49ers secondary has been ravaged by injuries this season, but one player to emerge from the depths is cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. After four weeks of inactive status to open the season had us worried this would be a lost year, Witherspoon has emerged as the team’s best cornerback.

Witherspoon had a mostly strong game against Seattle in Week 12. He did give up the touchdown to Jimmy Graham, but it’s safe to say, he probably never should have been covering Graham in the first place. He’ll have to deal with bigger receivers at times, but I’d still prefer to see Eric Reid handling that duty on the regular.

Other than that touchdown, it was a solid day for Witherspoon. He gave up three receptions on seven targets for 36 yards and that Graham touchdown. Pro Football Focus listed him as having one pass break-up, but the film suggests a second as well in the first two drives.

The one clean PBU came on this deep pass in which we saw him show solid recovery speed and break up the pass in the end zone. Here is some video of that.

I don’t know that Witherspoon is a clear-cut No. 1 cornerback, but he is proving to be a player in this league. There were concerns about his size, but other than dealing with someone as big as Jimmy Graham, that has not seemed to be an issue for the most part.

The 49ers have a lot of cap space and high draft picks to pick up some impact players, and cornerback is a position of need. Dontae Johnson is a free agent, but after nickel back K’Waun Williams, there’s just not much there. We have seen Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick mentioned repeatedly as an option in the first round. He is a cornerback who can play safety, and is viewed as a complete package. The 49ers are highly unlikely to draft a quarterback with their first round pick, so maybe they bring in Fitzpatrick to join Witherspoon? They could also make a run at Trumaine Johnson or Malcolm Butler in free agency. Suffice to say, they have options to complement Witherspoon.