The San Francisco 49ers kick off their organized team practice activities (OTAs) on May 21st. Those will run through June 7th, followed by mandatory minicamp June 12th through 14th. This is as important a period as any in the offseason. Players have been going through classroom work, and had individual work on the field. OTAs and minicamp are when teams really get to implement the playbook and get players ready for training camp.
This also means players can take a step forward in competitions for either a starting job or simply a chance to make the roster. We’re less than a week away from the start of OTAs, so I thought now is a good time to preview each position heading into the on-field workouts.
Today, we move on to the cornerbacks.
Depth chart: Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, Jimmie Ward, K’Waun Williams, Greg Mabin, Tarvarius Moore, D.J. Reed, Tarvarus McFadden, C.J. Goodwin, Trovon Reed, Emmanuel Moseley
The 49ers have been overhauling the cornerback depth chart since John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan first took over, and we’re seeing even more this offseason. The 49ers signed Richard Sherman shortly after the Seattle Seahawks released him. They then announced plans to move Jimmie Ward from free safety back to cornerback. Finally, they drafted Tarvarius Moore (with plans on converting him from safety to cornerback) and D.J. Reed, and landed priority free agent Tarvarus McFadden. On Tuesday, they claimed C.J. Goodwin off waivers.
What OTAs mean for the position
This is a bit of an odd one to figure out. Sherman is rehabbing his Achilles and is unlikely to take part in on-field work the rest of the offseason workout program. He thinks he’ll be ready to go in June, but the team is not going to rush this before training camp.
That opens the door for a host of opportunities, and the 49ers have added a lot of bodies to the mix. Tarvarius Moore is getting his first work as a cornerback, after spending his college career playing safety. How he takes to the technique changes required in this move will be a big part of OTAs. Tarvarus McFadden slid out of the draft thanks in large part to lack of speed. He was a priority free agent, and the team clearly thinks they can get something out of him.
One of the 49ers most interesting storylines of the offseason is Jimmie Ward’s transition back to cornerback. The team likely will look at him as a utility guy who can play outside cornerback, nickel back, and free safety. However, with Sherman sidelined for OTAs, Ward is expected to get a lot of run opposite Witherspoon in the secondary. How much can he take advantage of that opportunity?