Editor’s note: In the buildup to the NFL Draft (May 8-10) CSNBayArea.com will have content every day, including position breakdowns, retrospectives, mock drafts and more. Bookmark our Road to the NFL Draft and set your DVRs for April 28 at 4:30pm, when the 49ers Draft Preview show debuts on CSN Bay Area.
Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown would have remained as the 49ers starting cornerbacks for a third consecutive full season together if Brown had not been forced from the lineup with a fractured rib and cartilage damage in Week 11.
Now, both players are with the Raiders. And the 49ers will enter the season with a lot of question marks at one of the most important defensive positions.
Tramaine Brock started the 49ers’ final eight games, including the postseason. He played well, and is virtually assured to be one starter. Chris Culliver, who was the 49ers’ third corner for most of his first two seasons before spending last season on injured reserve with a knee injury, is the presumptive starter on the other side.
The all-important third cornerback job – and, likely, the player assigned to the slot receiver – is wide open for competition.
Who's here: Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox, Darryl Morris, Eric Wright, Chris Cook, Dax Swanson
Draft needs: The 49ers can virtually be assured of using one of their selections within the first two days of the draft to select a cornerback. It’s the only position on the team in which the 49ers do not have proven starters or reliable backups. The 49ers must add a young, talented player. And it might be tempting for them to invest more than one of their scheduled 11 draft picks in the position.
Good fits: Just as the 49ers targeted safety Eric Reid last season for a first-round trade, the team could go after a cornerback in the first round. Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech) has the size (5-foot-11 3Ž4) to be a starter on the outside. He also has the experience in the slot position to step in and play immediately in that role. Jason Verrett (TCU) does not have ideal height (5-9 1/2) but he is an outstanding cover man who could alleviate any concerns about the slot position. If Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State) or Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State) drop, the 49ers could be tempted to make a move up. Bashaud Breeland (Clemson) has speed, long arms and is considered a hard-worker and strong in the locker room. Pierre Desire (Lindenwood) and Stanley Jean-Baptiste (Nebraska) are intriguing options after the first round due to their length. Aaron Colvin, coming off an ACL tear at the Senior Bowl, might be worth a late-round investment.