The San Francisco 49ers have a big need at cornerback, but it remains to be seen how they plan on approaching the rebuilding process at the position. Ahkello Witherspoon had a strong rookie season, while Dontae Johnson struggled opposite him. Greg Mabin had a chance to take Johnson’s job, but a calf injury ended that chance.
With Witherspoon, Mabin, and nickel back K’Waun Williams the only notable returning cornerbacks, the team has a chance to make a splash this offseason. They have big-time cap dollars, and four picks in the first three rounds of a draft that could see a lot of cornerbacks go the first two days.
The trade market is an area that could end up on the radar. There have been some rumors percolating that the Denver Broncos are looking to trade Aqib Talib. The rumor picked up some steam at the Senior Bowl, but they date back to Talib’s own words at the end of the season.
I inquired with Tim Lynch over at Mile High Report about the rumors. He would not be surprised to see Talib get traded, but as he put it, “How much value does a 32 yr old CB have who is still playing elite football? Thats the question I struggle to answer.”
Talib is entering the second to last season of a six-year, $57 million contract extension he signed back in 2014. He is due $11 million in 2018 and $8 million in 2019. None of that is guaranteed, and the Broncos would only take a $1 million dead money hit if they trade him. Denver has $29 million in cap space, and could clear an additional $11 million if they trade or release Talib.
The 49ers have a need at cornerback, to go along with plenty of cap space to add somebody like Talib. He would be among the better options for 2018, but if they are thinking more big picture, would they more likely to either invest in a younger free agent cornerback (Trumaine Johnson just turned 28), or look at a cornerback heavy draft class?