Chris Culliver

49ers NFL Draft preview: Baalke corners the market on size and speed

Though cornerback doesn’t strike as an immediate position of need, fans need only recall the final quarter of the NFC Championship to remember the importance of cornerback depth. The image of Mario Manningham catching the go-ahead touchdown over Tramaine Brock is not just a bad memory, but a harbinger of future suffering. With Green Bay, Detroit, New York (Giants), New Orleans, and New England on the schedule next season, Baalke-claus would do well to upgrade the position.

In Baalke’s years with the organization, the 49ers have selected six cornerbacks:

Year Rd Pk HT WT 40 Y/D 20 Y/D 10 Y/D Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
D. Johnson 2005 6 31 5-11 197 4.43 2.62 1.57 4.10 7.15
D. Holly 2005 7 1 5-10 192 4.39 2.60 1.59 4.08 7.16
T. Brown 2007 5 10 5-11 208 4.45 2.57 1.46 4.37 7.00
P. Adams 2010 7 17 5-10 192 4.50 2.57 1.62 4.34 7.16
C. Culliver 2011 3 16 6-0 199 4.36 2.49 1.50 4.08 6.88
C. Holcomb 2011 7 49 5-10 190 4.47 2.60 1.51 4.25 6.85

Most of these corners fit a prescribed mold. Unlike his preference at wide receiver for quickness, Baalke appears to favor pure speed in his corners, as well as some amount of bulk. In discussing Culliver, Baalke noted that the team “really liked” the “physical attributes of the player.” Those attributes might be the following.

Attribute Range Average
Height 5-10 – 6-0 5-11
Weight 190 – 208 196
40 Y/D 4.36 – 4.50 4.43
20 Y/D 2.49 – 2.62 2.57
10 Y/D 1.46 – 1.62 1.54
Shuttle 4.08 – 4.37 4.20
3-Cone Drill 6.85 – 7.16 7.03

Physical attributes aside, Baalke also covets physicality, evidenced in the way he gushed about Culliver not being “afraid of contact,” as well as competitiveness. And, as we saw last year, the 49ers play mostly man coverage, even if that man is Victor Cruz. With these attributes in mind, I compiled the following list of players who fit Baalke’s type:

Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama

Proj HT WT 40 Y/D 10 Y/D Shuttle 3-Cone Drill Tkle Asst Int PD
1-2 5-10 193 4.46 1.47 4.10 7.15 92 29 8 33

Given that the 49ers prefer “high” character guys, is there a more perfect player than Jenkins? All jokes aside, the 49ers are generally not phased by marijuana charges. In 2006, they selected Tarell Brown despite impending drug charges. Character concerns notwithstanding, Jenkins is the best man-to-man corner in the draft, according to NFL Films’ Greg Cosell. ESPN Insider describes Jenkins as a “confident competitor who displays natural instincts” and who is an “active and willing” tackler.

Brandon Boykin, Georgia

Proj HT WT 40 Y/D 10 Y/D Shuttle 3-Cone Drill Tkle Asst Int PD
2-3 5-10 182 N/A N/A N/A N/A 106 53 9 27

A broken leg has kept Boykin out of pre-draft workouts, and so this analysis will be a bit incomplete. Still, most recognize Boykin for his speed and quickness, as points out. Though he is much smaller than any cornerback previously drafted by the team, Boykin is plenty physical. In fact, National Football Post asserts that Boykin “plays much bigger/stronger than his frame would indicate” and that he is “willing to throw his body around as a tackler and mix it up at times physically.” Russ Lande of Sporting News also noted Boykin’s physicality, stating that he showed a “willingness to play physical with receivers” and that “he does an excellent job of jolting receivers with a hard jam to slow their release.”

Boykin’s cover skills rivals those of Jenkins. ESPN Insider describes him as having “quick feet, fluid hips and explosive burst to make up for some of his instincts/recognition issues,” as well as “an extra gear to recover when caught in trail technique.” He also adds value as a return specialist.

Asa Jackson, Cal Poly

Proj HT WT 40 Y/D 10 Y/D Shuttle 3-Cone Drill Tkle Asst Int PD
4-5 5-10 191 4.49 1.58 4.03 6.97 145+ N/A 8 25+




Jackson’s skill set is similar to those of Jenkins and Boykin, insofar as he is a fast and physical corner who excels in man coverage. National Football Post notes that Jackson will “stick his head in the action and for a small corner exhibits good wrap-up ability and toughness to his game.” ESPN Insider describes Jackson as a “twitched-up athlete with quick feet and explosive short-area quickness” that “can run with receivers vertically” and “ can quickly gather and transition out of cuts.”


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