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PFF identifies the worst-case scenario for the 49ers this offseason

It’s time to turn the page in the secondary, according to PFF

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NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Pro Football Focus went through each team in the NFL and projected what their best and worst-case offseason scenarios would look like. You could guess what the best-case scenario was for the Niners. It’s tied into what San Francisco shouldn’t do:

Best case: Use money from a Jimmy Garoppolo trade on cornerbacks in free agency

Worst case: Prioritize retaining players over adding new faces in the secondary

San Francisco’s secondary ranked 24th in unit coverage grade in 2021. The outside cornerbacks allowed the third-highest rate of first downs or touchdowns in the NFL. And that’s where any available money in free agency should be spent, given the 49ers don’t have a first-round pick.

San Francisco is one of the few spots where Casey Hayward Jr., who was among the NFL’s five most valuable cornerbacks of 2021 in Las Vegas, could thrive. Seahawks free agent corner D.J. Reed Jr. is also likely to look for a new home as Seattle’s defense undergoes a scheme change. Reed — a top-10 graded cornerback in 2021 — would fit like a glove in San Francisco.

When you have a rookie quarterback, you want to take advantage of his contract. The Niners need a cornerback, and everybody knows it. Inconsistent and often poor cornerback play did the defense in at the most inopportune times.

Here are some names available outside of the building at cornerback on the free-agent market:

Stephon Gilmore
Joe Haden
Kyle Fuller
Bryce Callahan
J.C. Jackson
Darious Williams
Charvarius Ward
Casey Hayward
Jimmy Smith
Carlton Davis

The 49ers will have their pick of the litter at a position where they haven’t invested heavily. D.J. Reed is a player the organization should welcome back with open arms as a potential K’Waun Williams replacement.

Prioritizing “old faces” is a debate that I’ve seen some 49ers fans bring up, and it’s fair. At some point, you have to turn the page from oft-injured players in the secondary that aren’t bringing enough to the table.

What would a worst-case scenario offseason for the 49ers look like for you?