Sports Out West

49ers offseason: Questions at cornerback still linger

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If you surveyed all of the teams in the NFL about their rosters, odds are that most would trade places with the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners are one of the few teams that are deep and balanced on both sides of the football and have the luxury to take chances on certain players (see Blaine Gabbert and Jonathan Martin) as backups, hoping to rejuvenate their careers. While the players they have in place would rival that of any team, the 49ers still have question marks. The most lingering one is what they will get out of their current group of cornerbacks in 2014. While there is no doubt that a draft pick or two will be added, the 49ers are still counting on their holdovers to step up.

Tramaine Brock

Brock came out of nowhere last season to become arguably the best corner on the 49ers roster. Initially, he was beat out by Nnamdi Asomugha for the third corner position behind Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown. Despite the setback, Brock rebounded and was inserted into the lineup in Week 4 after Asumugha was injured (and struggled) and never looked back. He led the team with five interceptions and eventually became one of the starters. The 49ers rewarded him with a contract extension that would all but assure he will enter 2014 as a lock for the first unit. The only question is, can he maintain his strong play over a 16-game slate? Brock has only started seven games in his career.

Chris Culliver

During the majority of his first two seasons in the league, Culliver showed a lot of promise and was a player the 49ers were grooming to eventually take over as one of the starting cornerbacks. He looked to be rising quickly in 2012 before his play dropped off after Week 14 (around the time Justin Smith was injured). Culliver was especially bad during the playoffs, with his struggles culminating with a nightmare Super Bowl performance. His chances to rebound in 2013 were cut short due to an ACL injury that cost him the season. As of right now, he’s slotted to be the second starter opposite Brock, but questions remain about whether or not he will be 100 percent after missing an entire season.

 Chris Cook

The signing of Cook was a puzzling one, given the fact that he struggled with the Minnesota Vikings. Cook allowed nine touchdowns, which was tied for the most in the NFL, and opposing quarterbacks had a rating of 140.3 throwing his way. In 29 career starts, he has never recorded an interception. 

The 49ers feel that Cook was miscast in Minnesota and would be better playing in press coverage. While the team is without a doubt taking a chance on the defensive back, his one-year salary at the league minimum will not cost the team should they decide to part ways with him. Cook will be a long shot to make the 49ers, given the competition ahead of him.

Eric Wright

Wright signed a one-year deal of his own and has a shot to be the nickel corner, but in reality his spot on the roster is far from guaranteed. He appeared in seven games for the 49ers in 2013 but was replaced by Perrish Cox in the playoffs. Wright could get pushed to the fourth cornerback role or off the team entirely depending on what players are taken in the draft.

Darryl Morris

An undrafted free agent, Morris impressed the 49ers with his speed and contributions to special teams. He has an outside chance to make an impact on defense, but it’s a long shot.

Photo: Getty Images

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Al Sacco

Al Sacco is sports expert who knows football, baseball, basketball and hockey. He has spent his time as a sports journalist covering the San Francisco 49ers as a staff writer for 49erswebzone.com and 49ersgab.com. He is also a contributor to Yahoo! Voices and has had his work used on ESPN NFL Insiders.