The San Francisco 49ers are working out safety Jairus Byrd, along with other defensive backs on Tuesday. The front office has been active bringing in players for workouts, and while they have not always resulted in signings, the team is on the lookout to keep the roster churn going.
Last week, SI’s Chris Burke took a look at each NFL roster and assessed a significant issue most teams are facing. The 49ers have all sorts of issues as part of this rebuilding process, but for this exercise, he focused on the cornerback position. Here’s what he had to say:
One of the realities facing new GM John Lynch when he inherited this roster was that he wouldn’t be able to fix everything at once. So, while he did make headway at several positions on the field, the secondary is still in need of repairs. And it’s tough to make many substantial ones at this time of year.
Lynch did use a third-round pick on Colorado corner Ahkello Witherspoon, a tall, athletic, finesse DB. He has upside, but he also probably would be in for a rude welcome if he has to start Week 1. Rashard Robinson, Keith Reaser, K’Waun Williams and Dontae Johnson all entered the league in 2014 or later and have a combined 20 starts between them. The 49ers should be able to find a few extra bodies in the coming months. Otherwise, they should afford Witherspoon every opportunity to crack the lineup by September.
Last week at OTAs, the 49ers started Rashard Robinson and Keith Reaser at the two cornerback positions. Dontae Johnson and Ahkello Witherspoon will be competing for a starting role, while K’Waun Williams is likely focused on competing with Will Redmond for the nickel role.
The 49ers have more options at cornerback than they do safety, but they have potentially more established options in the starting line up at safety. Veteran help at all four (five if you count nickel) of the starting defensive backfield positions seem necessary.
On the offensive side of the ball, the tight end position is a question mark. The team drafted George Kittle and signed veteran Logan Paulsen and UDFA Cole Hikutini. They’ll be competing with Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, and Blake Bell. You could say for the short term, there aren’t “holes” to fill, but rather a lot of depth options to consider.
The 49ers have questions up and down the roster, but in terms of filling holes for 2017, the basics are mostly filled. It does not mean the 49ers don’t need to improve the talent level. That’s pretty obvious. Rather, given where the team is at in its rebuilding process, they don’t need to hurry to find a specific fill for every single question.