Maiocco: Cornerback tops 49ers' wish list

July 29, 2011, 1:58 am
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SANTA CLARA -- Johnathan Joseph, widely regarded as the second-best cornerback on the free-agent market, agreed to terms Thursday with the Houston Texans.Now, all indications are that Nnamdi Asomugha's choices have been narrowed to the New York Jets vs. the 49ers. The Raiders' free-agent cornerback is considered the best free agent available, and should fetch more than the reported five-year, 48.75 million that the Texans are paying Joseph.
The 49ers are believed to have approximately 20 million in space available under the league's 120 million salary cap. The 49ers created 15 million with the release of cornerback Nate Clements, a 10-year veteran who started all 16 games last season.
RELATED: 49ers to cut Clements, clear cap space
Teams are not required to comply with the salary cap until Aug. 4, the beginning of the new league year, at which point only the team's top 51 salaries count against the total.The 49ers' projected cap status is approximate. It takes into account the signings of the 49ers' 10-player draft class, as well as contract agreements for Alex Smith, Ray McDonald and Tony Wragge. The 49ers also sliced David Carr's 2.375 million figure from their books. The difference in the kickers of incoming David Akers and outgoing Joe Nedney is negligible.So where do the 49ers turn for a cornerback if they do not land Asomugha?The 49ers could bring back Clements to a reduced contract. Richard Marshall (Carolina), Chris Carr (Baltimore), Carlos Rogers (Washington) are among the other top free-agent cornerbacks. Also, the Jets would have no reason to re-sign Antonio Cromartie if they land Asomugha.