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The 49ers feel confident in their starting defensive lineup. And while there is a player tentatively marked in as their 12th starter, it’s an area that cries out for help in the draft.
Carlos Rogers, who handled the role of the nickel back each of his three seasons with the 49ers, was released last week at an eventual cap savings of $6.6 million. And the player who took over in the two playoffs games in which Rogers was sidelined, Perrish Cox, remains unsigned as a free agent.
The 49ers re-signed veteran Eric Wright, who is capable of playing the nickel position, to a one-year contract last week. While there's no questioning his physical talent, the coaching staff is not sold on Wright's ability to handle a major role in the defense.
The 49ers would be wise to look for an upgrade in the draft. And the one player who would figure to step in immediately is TCU cornerback Jason Verrett.
At 5 foot 9, 189 pounds, Verrett does not fit the model of the big, physical cornerback that the Seattle Seahawks have helped popularize. But Verrett has speed, agility and tenacity. He would be a perfect fit for a team, such as the 49ers, who need a player to cover the slot receiver.
Two weeks ago, 49ers director of college scouting Matt Malaspina attended TCU’s pro day to get a closer look at Verrett. The 49ers could stand at No. 30 and select Verrett or they could move up a few spots to ensure his selection.
Verrett is scheduled to undergo surgery Monday on a torn labrum in his right shoulder – an injury he played with from the third game of the season. He also demonstrated his toughness when he lifted 225 pounds 19 times at the NFL Scouting Combine with the injury.
He ran an official time of 4.38 seconds in the 40 – just .01 behind the fastest time among the defensive backs, which belonged to Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State. With Russell Wilson’s ability to keep plays alive, the 49ers are looking for that kind of recovery speed to help prevent big plays against the Seahawks.
Verrett is the player in the draft that best fits what the 49ers need most.
LDT -- Ray McDonald, Tank Carradine, Tony Jerod-Eddie
NT -- Glenn Dorsey, Ian Williams
RDT -- Justin Smith, Demarcus Dobbs, Quinton Dial
LOLB -- Ahmad Brooks, Dan Skuta
ILB -- Michael Wilhoite, Nick Moody (NaVorro Bowman)
ILB -- Patrick Willis, Nick Moody
ROLB -- Aldon Smith, Corey Lemonier
LCB -- Chris Culliver, Eric Wright
RCB -- Tramaine Brock, Chris Cook, Darryl Morris
Nickel – Eric Wright
FS -- Eric Reid, Craig Dahl
SS -- Antoine Bethea, C.J. Spillman