There have been a few interesting developments/comments on the 49ers cornerbacks front during this London trip. So, with their next opponent not providing a whole lot of discussion fodder (except for how much the 49ers are going out of their way to make it seem like the Jags aren’t horrible), it seemed like a good time to figure out what might happen in the future at a position that carries very little certainty for the 2014 season.
Tarell Brown, Nnamdi Asomugha, Tramaine Brock and Eric Wright are unrestricted free agents after this season. Perrish Cox is a restricted free agent. That leaves three others.
- Carlos Rogers: under contract through 2015 for a lot of money
- Chris Culliver: cheap, hits free agency in 2015
- Darryl Morris: very cheap, restricted free agent in 2016
“We’re going to our best to make it right,” Trent Baalke said today. “… We’re going to do our best to make sure T. Brown feels he’s being treated fairly by the 49ers’ organization.”
Brown lost $2 million in salary for missing a workout during the summer, a mistake that led to Brown firing his agent. Baalke’s comments make it sound like the 49ers are working on an extension for Brown. If they let Brown walk at the end of the season with no further financial commitment, players around the league (and in the 49ers’ locker room) would take note of Baalke’s promise to “make it right” as a sign that the 49ers are untrustworthy.
Asomugha is definitely not in the team’s plans, and may get cut within the next few weeks with Brock entrenched as the team’s No. 3 corner and Asomugha a non-factor on special teams. Brock’s price in free agency is rising by the week, so it stands to reason that they might want to extend him as well to keep him from hitting the open market. Cox is probably a last resort option — a replacement-level cornerback who has never really asserted himself since signing with San Francisco.
Vic Fangio talked a little bit about Wright yesterday:
How does CB Eric Wright look in practices?
“Better. He’s getting better and better. And put him in there yesterday with some of the defensive stuff. Last week he primarily did the scout team work. This week we’ve put him in there with the defense, snaps, few snaps here and there. And he’s done well. Obviously he’s not comfortable in the system yet. But, he’s a guy that we think once he kind of grasps it, he’ll grow leaps and bounds quickly because he’s played in the league. He’s done a lot of the things we do. He just has to learn to work with our guys and our lingo.”
And he can play slot or outside?
“Yes, that’s what he’s done during his career.”
And have you had him slotted yet?
“Yes, he’s played some on the slot.”
But, the situation’s kind of unique for you. You have some guys who are playing pretty well. It’s going to be tough for him to get on the field, isn’t it?
“Could be. But, eventually there will be a spot for corners and slash nickel/dime players that they’ll eventually work their way out there.”
Meaning what? Just attrition, just injuries?
“Sometimes it’s attrition. Sometimes if he shows that he can play better than who we have playing, that’s the guy who will play.”
I’m beginning to think maybe, just maybe … Rogers isn’t in the 49ers’ future plans. Rogers is a hard guy not to like. He’s a great quote (one of many in the 49ers’ secondary). He’s a “very smart player,” according to Fangio. But then you see things like Kendall Wright getting a couple steps on Rogers and sprinting away and one has to wonder if the 49ers have any interest in paying him over $17 million over the next two seasons. Okay, one doesn’t even need to wonder. The 49ers won’t do that.
Fangio didn’t really say anything about Wright taking anyone’s job in particular, but if he succeeds in the slot it’s definitely possible he could be Rogers’ future replacement. If I had to guess right now, the 49ers’ 2014 cornerbacks depth chart would look like this:
Yeah, that would entail the 49ers saying goodbye to Rogers (who could very well agree to a restructured deal) and signing three of their unrestricted free agents. Plus, we don’t know how good Wright really is, at least as a 49er. But as far as predictions that’ll be forgotten within a week, my list of five cornerbacks suffices.