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Is free agency a better place than NFL Draft for 49ers to fill cornerback need?

It’s a strong draft class, but other positions are at a premium in the first round.

The San Francisco 49ers need a cornerback, that much is certain. Where they’ll acquire a cornerback to start opposite Ahkello Witherspoon and ahead of nickle corner K’Waun Williams is the big question. Mock drafts around the Internet have them taking a cornerback in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, but not everyone feels that’s the best place to get it done.

Over at ESPN, Nick Wagoner suggests that the 49ers really shouldn’t be looking toward the draft. He points out, and I agree, that John Lynch’s philosophy is to use free agency to fill needs, freeing the team up to spend draft picks on the best player available. I tend to agree, even if it isn’t the greatest free agency class. It does have more talent at the position than normal, I think.

Three reasons are given for avoiding spending a first-round pick in free agency. The first is that the 49ers could use a veteran presence at cornerback, which is something I definitely agree with. The 49ers went in hard on rookies this past season, but now would be a good time to start adding veterans at key positions.

The second reason given is that this is a strong free agency class, and it’s a good point. There are several veteran cornerbacks who could and should interest the 49ers. Wagoner’s premise is that the 49ers also have a big need at edge rusher, and we’ll go into point No. 3 to drive that home.

He notes that the scarcity at one position impacts the rest of them for his third reason. In other words: edge rushers are easier to find early in the draft, while they rarely make it to free agency, with guys like DeMarcus Lawrence likely not hitting the open market. Guys like Chandler Jones and Melvin Ingram were franchise tagged and then signed last season. Veteran corners, though, are set to hit the open market.

I’d say he presents a strong argument against a first-round cornerback, or at least a strong argument for the 49ers to try and fill the needs before the draft ever comes around. What do you folks think?