NFC West: Eric Wright

There's little doubt the San Francisco 49ers' biggest question area is at cornerback because of all the flux this offseason.

So the fact two veteran cornerbacks were released Friday can't go unnoticed. Kansas City cut Brandon Flowers and Detroit jettisoned Chris Houston. Flowers is likely more intriguing because he has been the better player, while Houston is coming off an injury.
Flowers
Could the 49ers make a run at Flowers?

Ultimately, I'd expect Flowers to get a better deal elsewhere. But I could see the 49ers considering the idea. They have some salary cap room and as previously mentioned, there are questions at the position.

Still, a pursuit of Flowers wouldn't necessarily be a certainty. Flowers is 5-foot-9 and the 49ers are trying to get bigger and more physical at the position. Plus, even though the 49ers have questions at cornerback, there are pretty full there.

Chris Culliver, coming off a torn ACL, is expected to start opposite Tramaine Brock after Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers departed this offseason. First-round pick Jimmie Ward will play the nickel cornerback. The 49ers also have veteran Chris Cook, Eric Wright and Perrish Cox and drafted three rookie cornerback (one, Keith Reaser, is not play because of an injury).

If the 49ers are nervous about what they've seen so far in the offsason they could make a run at Flowers, but I'm not sure they will think it's worth the financial investment.
With organized team activities in full swing for the San Francisco 49ers, the biggest on-field question the team must answer is at cornerback.

The team is undergoing a major transformation at the position. Two of their top three cornerbacks last season -- Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown -- departed this offseason. Rogers was cut and Brown left in free agency. Both signed are now with Oakland.

Tramaine Brock, who was superb last season after starting camp as a special teamer, has emerged as the team's best cornerback. Chris Culliver, who could be subject to an NFL suspension after a felony arrest this offseason, is set to start. He played well in 2012, but missed all of last season with a torn ACL.

Rookie Jimmie Ward, the team's first-round pick, is a safety, but he will play the nickel cornerback spot this year. He has experience there. Veterans Eric Wright and newly signed Chris Cook and second-year player Darryl Morris are among those who also have a chance at playing time. ESPN's Matt Williamson believes Cook, a former second-round pick who failed to live up to expectations with the Vikings, can improve as a 49er. He is big and physical and a good fit for the defense.

While there are question marks, the truth is, the 49ers were looking to move away from Rogers and Brown and think this can be an upgraded spot. The 49ers are very confident with their defensive coaching staff. Brock developed quickly and their cornerbacks this year can thrive as well.

In the long-term, this position is still a work in progress. Culliver is a free agent after the season and Ward is a long-term safety. The 49ers will likely add to this position next year and hope recent draft picks, Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser and Ken Acker can help next year. Johnson could even figure in this year's plan.

Again, this position will be a storyline all summer, but the 49ers are comfortable with it at this point.
The San Francisco 49ers continued to add depth to the cornerback position by bringing back Perrish Cox on a one-year deal, his agent tweeted Tuesday.

Cox
Cox is expected to sign this week. He was to be a restricted free agent, but the 49ers didn’t tender him.

Cox bounced on and off the 49ers’ roster last season, but did play in the playoffs. He beat out veteran Eric Wright for playing time in the postseason. However, the 49ers signed Wright two weeks ago, indicating he is a bigger priority moving forward than Cox.

Cox, though, does lengthen the 49ers’ options at cornerback. Last week, we looked at where the position stands. So, Cox increased depth, at least, during training camp.

The 49ers will very likely use a high draft pick on a cornerback who will play a lot as a rookie.

The 49ers have just two remaining unrestricted free agents -- center Jonathan Goodwin and quarterback Colt McCoy. Only Goodwin has a chance to return, but that might be down the road.
No position on the San Francisco 49ers has more uncertainty than cornerback -- and it's not even close.

The team only has one solid starter in place, but there are several players who could emerge. Of course, the 49ers could add a cornerback in a dwindling free-agent market and will surely pick one or two in the May 8-10 draft.

Let's take a look at where the 49ers stand at cornerback:

Brock
Starters:

Tramaine Brock: A year ago, no one would have guess he would be the most reliable cornerback on the team. But Brock made the huge leap from a special teams to the No. 1 cornerback. He was terrific in 2013 and it earned him a four-year contract extension.

Chris Culliver: This is very fluid. The 49ers have confidence in Culliver, but, in a perfect world, he will play the nickel. Culliver, who has proven in the past he can play, missed all of last season with a torn ACL. Still, he's the type of player who would likely be a better No. 3 than a No. 2.

Slot candidates:

Eric Wright: The veteran is talented and has performed well in the past. Yet, he didn't do much last season. It was a mild surprise the 49ers re-signed him to a one-year deal. Wright, who was inactive by the end of the season, has a chance to help if he can gain the coaching staff's trust.

Cook
Chris Cook: He is the 49ers' lone offseason addition at the position so far. Cook, a second-round pick by Minnesota in 2010, has struggled at times -- on and off the field. But there are some positives; he's 6-foot-2 and the team wants him to play in press coverage. Also, he came at a cheap price, getting paid the league minimum with no bonus. Perhaps the light will come on with strong coaching.

Young players with potential:

Darryl Morris: He opened eyes on special teams as an undrafted rookie last season. Coaches think he can help on defense, too.

Dax Swanson: He's a practice-squad player who will get a chance to impress in training camp.

Departed:

Tarell Brown: Brown, a starter much of last season, went across the bay to Oakland for a one-year, $3.5 million deal. The 49ers wanted him back, but not at that price. He is solid and must be replaced.

Carlos Rogers: Cut by the 49ers, there's always a chance he could be brought back at a much reduced price. But I think the 49ers would like to move on.

Cox
Still possible:

Perrish Cox: It's telling that Wright was signed before he was. But similar to Rogers' situation, I guess the door can't be completely closed.

Potential future additions:

The remaining free-agent market is not overly enticing. The top players are Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Antonio Cromartie. Others include Champ Bailey and Jabari Greer. Rodgers-Cromartie would be a good fit, but he wants too much money. The good news for the 49ers is the draft is stacked at this position and they could easily find a starting-quality player in the early rounds.

Conclusion:

The 49ers need to add here and they will probably do it through the draft. If they get the right player, they should be fine. Having players like Culliver, Wright and Cook as a rotation player is not a terrible situation. The key will be, whoever is brought on to the team, he must be ready to contribute right away.
Free agency is entering its fifth day (it only seems like 43) and the San Francisco 49ers have been busy making roster changes. Let's take a look at what has gone on so far:

Returning free agents: Receiver Anquan Boldin, kicker Phil Dawson, cornerback Eric Wright.

Departed free agents: Safety Donte Whitner (Cleveland), cornerback Tarell Brown (Oakland), running back Anthony Dixon (tweeted he is signing with Buffalo on Saturday).

Released: Cornerback Carlos Rogers.

Free-agent addition: Safety Antoine Bethea (Colts), Cornerback Chris Cook (Vikings).

Acquired in trade: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert from Jaguars; tackle Jonathan Martin from Miami.

Who are they interested in? Cornerback Walter Thurmond (Seattle),receivers Julian Edelman (New England) and Emmanuel Sanders (Pittsburgh).

Remaining 49ers free agents: Center Jonathan Goodwin, receiver Mario Manningham, quarterback Colt McCoy, receiver Kassim Osgood, cornerback Perrish Cox.

Starting lineup changes: Bethea for Whitner; likely Daniel Kilgore for Goodwin.

49ers' offseason scorecard

March, 12, 2014
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Free agency isn’t 24 hours old and the San Francisco 49ers have been busy making roster changes. Let’s take a look at what has gone on so far:

Returning free agents: receiver Anquan Boldin, kicker Phil Dawson, cornerback Eric Wright.

Departed free agents: Safety Donte Whitner (Browns).

Released: Cornerback Carlos Rogers.

Free=agent addition: Safety Antoine Bethea (Colts).

Acquired in trade: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert from Jaguars; tackle Jonathan Martin from Miami.

Remaining free-agent priority: Cornerback Tarell Brown.

Other remaining free agents: Center Jonathan Goodwin, receiver Mario Manningham, quarterback Colt McCoy, receiver Kassim Osgood, running back Anthony Dixon, cornerback Perrish Cox.

Starting lineup changes: Bethea for Whitner; likely Daniel Kilgore for Goodwin.
With questions at cornerback, the San Francisco 49ers are bringing back veteran Eric Wright.

Wright
He tweeted a photo of the contract Wednesday afternoon. The Sacramento Bee reported he is signing a one-year deal. He signed a one-year deal with the 49ers last summer.

The San Francisco native has ability and he made some plays in a limited role. However, his playing time dipped severely in the playoffs and he ended up being inactive.

Still, the front office likes him. Wright will need to prove to the coaching staff that he is prepared to play this season. That was the issue late in the year. He could play nickel. The 49ers cornerback position is a work in progress. They cut Carlos Rogers on Wednesday, as expected, and Tarell Brown is a free agent.

The team has been talking to Miami free agent Nolan Carroll. If Brown doesn’t come back, the 49ers will add, at least, one cornerback is free agency. They are also expected to use an early pick on the position.

49ers' veteran free-agent review

January, 31, 2014
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The San Francisco 49ers had good success in veteran free agency in 2013. Let's take a look back at the impact the veteran acquisitions made in alphabetical order

Nnamdi Asomugha: This one didn't work out. Asomugha had nothing left and the 49ers cut him during the season. He didn't cost much, so it was not a major issue.

Craig Dahl: A backup and a special teamer. Solid addition.

Phil Dawson: He was a difference maker. He made 32 of 36 field goal attempts and he made 27 in a row. He was clutch all season. The team wants him back after he signed a one-year deal last year.

Glenn Dorsey: Another really fine addition. Dorsey, the No. 5 overall draft pick in 2008, came alive in San Francisco. His coaches raved about him as he stood out at nose tackle after Ian Williams was lost for season in Week 2.

Colt McCoy: He was the perfect backup quarterback -- he never played when it counted. I think the 49ers would like to upgrade from him moving forward, though.

Kassim Osgood: A fine special teamer. A key part of the team.

Dan Skuta: He was a valuable role player. He played outside linebacker when Aldon Smith missed five games to seek treatment for substance abuse. Skuta was also a key special teamer.

Adam Snyder: A role player who has been in the 49ers' system in the past. He played in five games when left guard Mike Iupati was injured.

Bubba Ventrone: Just like Osgood. A big reason why the special teams improved so greatly.

Eric Wright: The 49ers had high hopes for him, but he finished the season inactive. He is a free agent. It is far from a sure thing that he returns.
SEATTLE -- As expected, the San Francisco 49ers are going to be in excellent health for the start of Sunday's NFC championship at Seattle.

The team's two injury question marks -- cornerback Carlos Rogers and fullback Will Tukuafu -- are active and will play. Rogers missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. Tukuafu missed most of the Carolina game with a knee injury.

Rogers will be the nickel cornerback. Perrish Cox, who played well when Rogers was out, will be the fourth cornerback.

Veteran Eric Wright is inactive because Rogers is active and because Cox beat him out two weeks ago. The 49ers expected more from Wright this season, but they see the younger Cox as a more reliable option.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Carlos Rogers is missing practice for the fifth straight practice with a hamstring injury.

Rogers
The San Francisco 49ers cornerback said Thursday that he hopes to play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. However, he must practice if he is going to play. San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he doesn’t expect Rogers to play against the Panthers if he doesn’t practice. That means Rogers must practice Friday before the 49ers fly to North Carolina.

Rogers has been running this week.

“I have to be smart,” he said. “I don’t know if I will be ready, but I am trying.”

All indications are that if Rogers can’t play, Perrish Cox will be the nickel cornerback. He played virtually the entire game at Green Bay over veteran Eric Wright. Fangio said the team went with Cox, who was signed earlier in the week, because he had a better week of practice than Wright.

Rotational defensive tackle DeMarcus Dobbs (knee) returned to practice after missing Wednesday’s session.

In other 49ers notes:

Fangio said he has had no contact with any teams about a head-coaching job. ESPN reported that the Redskins were interested in him. However, they hired Jay Gruden on Thursday.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman called talk that he interviewed for the Penn State job “speculation.” The school reportedly will hire Vanderbilt coach James Franklin. Roman’s name has also been attached to the open Minnesota Vikings job.

In an Insider piece, Matt Williamson thinks 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick could be a weak link at Carolina. He certainly was the last time these two teams played. But will it happen again?

ESPN Stats & Information has a matchup to watch in the game.

49ers enjoying strong health

January, 8, 2014
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- While cornerback Carlos Rogers' hamstring injury continues to linger, the San Francisco 49ers head into their NFC divisional playoff game at Carolina in solid overall health.

Earlier Wednesday, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he liked his team’s overall health going into the game and the team's injury report confirmed the 49ers are in solid shape.

The following San Francisco players missed practice Wednesday: defensive tackle Demarcus Dobbs (knee, shoulder), center Jonathan Goodwin (not injury related), defensive tackle Justin Smith (shoulder) and Rogers.

Smith and Goodwin routinely don’t practice on Wednesdays and Dobbs is a backup. If Rogers, who didn’t play at Green Bay, can’t play Sunday, Perrish Cox and Eric Wright will play the nickel spot for him.

In other 49ers notes:

Harbaugh said this when asked to explain how much fun he’s having coaching in the playoffs: “This is as much fun as you can possibly have in football and as much fun as you can have in life, yeah.”

Harbaugh said he thought the 49ers matched up well physically against the tough-and-tumble Panthers in Carolina’s 10-9 win in San Francisco on Nov. 10.

Harbaugh complemented the Panthers' defensive front seven by saying it was the most talented group the 49ers have played this season.
Going into their wild-card game at Green Bay, there were genuine concerns about the secondary of the San Francisco 49ers.

Rogers
After the depleted unit played well, keeping Aaron Rodgers from engineering an upset, prospects for Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game at Carolina look much more promising.

It appears cornerback Carlos Rogers is on schedule to play at Carolina. He missed the Green Bay game with a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 17 at Arizona. Rogers told reporters Tuesday he's been running and feels on pace to play.

If Rogers plays, that means Perrish Cox will drop to the dime. Cox, signed last week, was the surprise call at nickel against Green Bay. He played nearly the entire game and did well, especially considering he was unemployed the week before. Cox was given the call over veteran Eric Wright.

Wright was expected to be the nickel with Rogers out. But there were indications that the team wasn't quite ready for Wright to play. He could bounce back and play some nickel moving forward.

Regardless, with a healthy Rogers and confidence in Cox, the 49ers head forward in the playoffs with renewed strength at the position.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Thursday, there was optimism that cornerback Carlos Rogers would practice in preparation for Sunday’s playoff game against Green Bay.

Rogers
San Francisco 49ers' defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thursday that the thought was Rogers would try to practice. However, during the short window while the media was able to watch, Rogers was working on a side field with a member of the strength team, and was not wearing practice clothes.

Rogers suffered a hamstring injury Sunday at Arizona. Both Rogers and Fangio said this week that the injury is not bad as initially thought.

A decision on Rogers’ availability might not happen until Sunday. Possible replacements include Eric Wright, Tarell Brown and Perrish Cox.

49ers have questions at cornerback

December, 30, 2013
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There is potential flux for the San Francisco 49ers at cornerback -- just in time to face Aaron Rodgers in an elimination game.

Rogers
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday that Eric Wright will play for Carlos Rogers if Rodgers can't play Sunday at Green Bay in a wild-card playoff game. Rogers suffered a hamstring injury late in the win over Arizona on Sunday. He had an MRI on Monday and Harbaugh offered no details. However, Rogers said Sunday he felt fine and didn't think the injury was serious.

The 49ers added cornerback Perrish Cox on Monday to complete the 53-man roster. He filled the spot vacated when receiver Mario Manningham was put on injured reserve Friday. Harbaugh said the plan was to sign Cox before Rogers was injured.

The 49ers' pass defense has struggled in the past two games allowing 755 combined passing yards to Atlanta and Arizona. Much of those yards came late. Harbaugh indicated Monday he wasn't worried about the issue.

If Wright has to play for Rogers, the 49ers have faith. He has been an NFL starter and he's played well in a reserve role this season. The 49ers are deep at the position. Cox can play in dime situations, which often may be the case against the Packers.

The 49ers will certainly be in better shape if Rogers can play, but they can probably withstand the loss if he can't play. Even if Rogers' injury is not serious, he'd probably rest some this week during practice because hamstrings easily aggravate.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The San Francisco 49ers' defense has evolved this season.

In the recent past, the 49ers were famous for not rotating many players on defense. But injuries have given several young players a chance to play. The youngsters have helped keep up San Francisco’s strong standard of defense; the unit has not slipped despite the infusion of youth.

Jerod-Eddie
One of those players is defensive tackle Tony Jerod-Eddie. And it's likely he will get another chance to make a contribution Sunday against New Orleans.

It appears Ray McDonald will not play because of a high left-ankle sprain. McDonald is a big part of the 49ers’ defense, but Jerod-Eddie has played well. He and Demarcus Dobbs spelled McDonald when he was hurt early against Carolina on Sunday. Jerod-Eddie also played when Glenn Dorsey was hurt earlier in the season and didn’t let the overall line play dip.

The 49ers expect the same thing to happen Sunday with McDonald likely out.

In other notes:
  • The cuts of Kyle Williams and Perrish Cox may bode well for special-teamer Kassim Osgood. He was a surprise inactive player Sunday, but the fact that two players were cut Tuesday that were active Sunday shows that the 49ers still have plans for Osgood.
  • Williams and Cox were the backup punt returners. Now cornerbacks Eric Wright and Tarell Brown will backup LaMichael James on punts. Williams was claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs, who had the 32nd and final claiming priority. If they didn’t claim him, Williams would have become a free agent. Williams joins former teammates Alex Smith and A.J. Jenkins in Kansas City. Cox went unclaimed.
  • The 49ers are practicing with 52 players on the active roster. Coach Jim Harbaugh said a decision will be made later in the week. Derek Carrier remains a candidate to be promoted from the practice squad if Garrett Celek can’t play because of a hamstring injury.
  • Running back Marcus Lattimore said Wednesday he still hopes to get on the field. Next week is the last week Lattimore can begin practicing. He is not expected to play until next season, having suffered a dislocated right kneecap and three torn knee ligaments.

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