Roster evaluations are going to be continuing into the preseason and until the team gets pads on and plays a preseason game or two, we won’t know the true strengths and weaknesses. That’s not stopping analysts from taking a look.
The 49ers entered the draft with a major need at cornerback and surprisingly waited until Day 3 (D.J. Reed in Round 5) to address it. They believe in raw cover men Ahkello Witherspoon and K’Waun Williams, despite a pass defense that ranked among the league’s worst last year. They are betting big on Richard Sherman looking like Richard Sherman again after Achilles surgery.
Rosenthal is right that they are betting big on Sherman, but the secondary still seems like quite an upgrade with the additions. Ahkello Witherspoon showed some good stuff towards the end of 2017, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert’s play had a hand in Eric Reid not returning to the 49ers. Plus, if someone does go down, the team has a very capable Swiss army knife in Jimmie Ward who can step in and offer starter production. Given the two second-year veterans and Sherman’s injury it seems like a gamble.
But a weakness? I think the 49ers pass-rush is still a huge issue. They signed Cassius Marsh to an extension, but don’t really have a consistent threat who can sack the quarterback. Especially when Elvis Dumervil was shown the door. If the 49ers can’t generate pressure to the quarterback and get some sacks, the secondary will in turn be unproductive.
If it can get into the backfield, the secondary can work wide receivers by extension. Given that the 49ers barely addressed the position in the draft or free agency, it still seems like their biggest weakness.