- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers secondary is undergoing a major change as the team added several new players to the unit. At the 49ers' minicamp Wednesday, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio addressed some of them and what he expects.
Let's take a look:
On first-round pick Jimmie Ward who is expected to be the nickel cornerback: "He's going to certainly get every opportunity [to be the nickel]. But, he's missed all this time [with a foot injury] and he's learning and he's a rookie, etc. And we'll all have to be a little patient with him. ... I think he's done everything he can under his circumstances to learn our defense and improve. But, he's got to go do it."
On free-agent pickup Antoine Bethea, who will replace Donte Whitner in the starting lineup: "I think he came in here with the right mindset to learn the defense, to learn the assignments and the techniques and how we want to play them. So, he's been in a learning mode. Once he feels more and more comfortable, I think he'll even be a positive influence on the team from an intangible role and be a leader in his own way. So, been pleased with his progress and I think he'll ultimately be a good player for us."
On free-agent pickup Chris Cook, who is expected to be part of the cornerback rotation: "Chris Cook is a guy that was at Minnesota the last four years. And things didn't pan out for him there like they had hoped and like he had hoped. And hopefully we can get him here and get that out of him what they were hoping for and what he was hoping for. And we'll see. He's definitely made progress. He still has a ways to go and he's going to have to ultimately do it on the field, in practice, and ultimately in the games, to be considered one of the guys for either in the top four in the base, or the top five in the nickel."