Earlier today, we discussed a cornerback the San Francisco 49ers should draft in each round. The odds are high that the 49ers add a cornerback as the majority of CBs on the team contracts is set to expire after 2020. If San Francisco chooses to wait, that’s because they’re confident with the talent that’s already in the building. John Lynch was asked how his top-four cornerbacks not being signed beyond this season will impact the draft and the 49ers long-term plan:
“That’s a good question and something that we’re certainly aware of. That happens sometimes. I think when you look at our roster as compared to the rest of the league, we’ve got a lot of players signed. Corner happens to be a position where that’s not necessarily the case through this year. We’re certainly aware of that, and will that affect how we approach this draft? Maybe. We also like the players we have. Obviously, [CB] Richard Sherman, our play when we signed him was that we were very optimistic with the worker he was, with the championship pedigree he brought and we had a hunch that maybe his best football for us would happen in year two where he was a little bit more healthy. We saw that last year, and so we’re encouraged by that. I think we’re in a good place with Sherm and we’ll see where that goes. You’ve got guys like [CB Emmanuel] Moseley, you’ve got a guy like [CB] Tim Harris [Jr.] who we drafted and was having a really good camp and then had to go to Injured Reserve, but a guy that we’re excited about working with moving forward. You know [CB] Ahkello Witherspoon is a guy, this is a big year for Ahkello. No doubt about it. He’s got to go show it on the field. I remember drafting him some years ago and all the qualities we still see. Now, he’s got to just consistently put it to work. That’s something we’re going to monitor closely, and we are aware of that situation, and we have a plan, and we’re going to execute that plan.”
Lynch dances around committing to saying the 49ers will draft a cornerback early for obvious reasons. The order of the names mentioned caught my eye. Moseley will likely go into the 2020 season as the starter, but that doesn’t mean Moseley will have to his starting spot secured. Instead of Witherspoon, Lynch lists Tim Harris next. So Harris didn’t do much of anything during practices and often practiced with the 3s & 4s, so that’s Lynch giving us “coach speak,” but that doesn’t mean the team doesn’t believe in Harris. Lynch mentioned the redshirt receivers that need to take the next step. Harris was “redshirted” last year when the team placed him on IR, which prevented Harris from being poached from the practice squad. That was a smart move by the Niners.
It’s impossible to give up on ‘Spoon. Talking with The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen on this topic, he said that there aren’t many cornerbacks in the NFL with Witherspoon’s physical ability. Witherspoon will have an opportunity during training camp to earn his spot back. If we see the same type of aggression before he was injured in 2019, it’ll be difficult to keep Ahkello off the field. Consistency and confidence are critical are cornerback, and Witherspoon lacked both traits down the stretch.