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What Culliver's arrest means on field

3/30/2014

The San Francisco 49ers were counting on Chris Culliver this season.

Right now, he is set to be a starter and, at the least, the team wants him to be a nickel cornerback. Culliver, who played well as the nickel in 2012 but missed all of last season with a torn ACL, has the confidence of the team as far as his football skills go.

The presence of Culliver was one of the reasons why the 49ers didn't make a huge push to keep Tarell Brown from leaving in free agency and why they didn't push harder to get Walter Thurmond in free agency.

Now that Culliver has been arrested on felony hit-and-run and weapon charges, it clouds things some. He could face a league suspension for a small portion of the season. The 49ers have been talking about giving Culliver, a free agent after the season, a contract extension. Those talks will likely be on hold for now.

The 49ers were going to draft a cornerback early anyway. But now it is even more urgent. The 49ers have the No. 30 pick in the first round and they have a league-high six picks in the first three rounds. Thus, they have the ability to move up and get a top cornerback prospect.