Calvin Watkins, who covers the Dallas Cowboys for the Dallas News, reported that Denver Broncos cornerback and unrestricted free agent Chris Harris met with at least 24 teams at the NFL Scouting Combine. There will be no shortage of a market in a couple of weeks when free agency kicks off. If you need a cornerback, you’ll probably be interested in Harris Jr. The San Francisco 49ers need a cornerback, so they’ll likely be interested in Harris Jr. Denver is expected to place a franchise tag on free safety Justin Simmons if the two sides can’t work a deal out. That likely means Harris Jr., who turns 31 this offseason, will test free agency.
Harris had the worst season of his career in 2019. His success rate in coverage was 48%, which is the same number as “perfect fit” Ronald Darby. The hard part for the 49ers is figuring out if Harris just had a down season or is father time catching up with one of the best cornerbacks of the last decade? If San Francisco is one of the teams interested in Harris Jr., they’d have one of the smartest cornerback duos in all of football. With some of the mistakes Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon made in coverage down the stretch, I believe that will lead the Niners to invest in a veteran cornerback. This is why moving on from Dee Ford isn’t as absurd as some think.
What it comes down to
Emmanuel Moseley. We will find out over the next two months what the team thinks of Moseley, who exceeded expectations in his first season as a partial starter for the 49ers. I’m a big fan of Moseley and can see him developing into a quality starter. Will, the Niners, be patient with Moseley, or will John Lynch and company do everything they can to capitalize on their Super Bowl window by bringing in a proven commodity like Harris Jr.?
If we see the 49ers sign a veteran cornerback, that’s a signal that Moseley needs more time to develop. If we see the 49ers address cornerback early in the draft, that’s a signal that Moseley may be best suited as a backup. For now, at least. To me, Moseley was closer to above-average than average in 2019. Ideally, you allow him to continue to grow as a player and go through the natural growing pains that young players experience. The problem with that is all of a sudden; San Francisco is in a “win-now” mode, which could prevent the team from being patient with Moseley. Fair or not, these are the discussions that the front office is having.
Richard Sherman’s contract is up after the 2020 season, as is K’Waun William’s contract. I’d be shocked if the team doesn’t add a cornerback this offseason. The only question is how heavily they will invest in the position. A veteran like Harris Jr. is a short-term answer that helps you win now. I don’t envy Lynch, but I’m intrigued to see what decision he makes.