Will Redmond seems to be back from his 2015 torn ACL, and ready to compete for the San Francisco 49ers’ nickel back role. He posted this picture on Twitter, making sure people remember he’s going to be a steal as a third round pick.
Redmond faces plenty of competition for the nickel role. The 49ers signed K’Waun Williams a few weeks before the start of free agency. He was the Cleveland Browns nickel back before an ankle injury in 2016 training camp threw everything for a loop.
The 49ers signed Williams to a one-year, $690,000 deal. He missed all of 2016 with the ankle injury, so this is very much a prove-it deal. Keith Reaser will also be in the mix, but Redmond could be the guy to watch now that he is healthy.
The 49ers drafted Redmond in the third round of the 2016 NFL draft, but Redmond missed the season due to an ACL injury suffered the previous fall. Trent Baalke repeatedly said after the selection that Redmond would be ready for the fall. He got on the field in training camp, but eventually had to be shelved on injured reserve.
By all accounts, Redmond is back from his torn ACL, and ready to compete in camp. He has considerable athleticism, with scouting reports pointing to excellent footwork and quickness. However, he has limited experience. He sat out his freshman year due to an NCAA investigation of recruiting issues. He played eight games as a sophomore, and another 12 as a junior, coming off the bench. He became a starter his senior season, but tore his ACL halfway through the season.
The lack of significant starting experience is of note, but the physical talent is there. However, with Tramaine Brock released and Jimmie Ward moving to safety, there is going to be a fairly wide open competition for all of the cornerback positions.
The 49ers drafted Ahkello Witherspoon, and he very well could start opposite Rashard Robinson when the regular season starts. It remains to be seen who would be moved inside over the slot receiver when the 49ers go into their nickel. My guess is we see Robinson and Witherspoon starting, but it is possible the 49ers open the season with Robinson and Reaser starting, and Witherspoon coming off the bench. We don’t know how quickly anybody will emerge from this group, let alone a rookie like Witherspoon.
With all that in mind, who will be the first cornerback off the bench when the 49ers switch out of their base defense?
Who will be the 49ers nickel back Week 1 of the regular season?
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