Culliver will compete for job at cornerback, not safety

Culliver will compete for job at cornerback, not safety
February 21, 2014, 11:45 am
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He’s matured a lot, both on the field and off the field, and it’s fun to watch.
Trent Baalke on Chris Culliver

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INDIANAPOLIS -- With veteran Donte Whitner scheduled for free agency, the 49ers could find themselves in the market for a player to line up alongside starting safety Eric Reid.

But that player will not be Chris Culliver, who earned second-team All-SEC honors at free safety in 2009 before moving to cornerback for his final season at South Carolina. Culliver was the 49ers’ third cornerback in each of his first two NFL years before missing all of last season due to a torn ACL.

“There’s been absolutely no discussion relative to (moving Culliver to safety),” Baalke said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “And I don’t know why we even would discuss it. We feel awfully good about him as a corner. It's a tough position to find. And when you find a good, young one, you keep him where he’s comfortable. And that’s where he’s most comfortable.”

Tramaine Brock, who signed a four-year, $14 million contract extension late in the season, is expected to return as one starting cornerback. Tarell Brown is due to become a free agent. And veteran Carlos Rogers is unlikely to return to the 49ers unless he accepts a pay cut from his scheduled $6.6 million figure.

Culliver will be given an opportunity to compete for a starting job. He might have been a starter last season had he not sustained a severe knee injury early in training camp.

“He looks real good,” Baalke said of Culliver's rehabilitation. “And he’s working awfully hard. He’s at the facility every day and doing extra and really doing a nice job. He’s matured a lot, both on the field and off the field, and it’s fun to watch.”