Many of you probably know about 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver’s recent run-in with the law.
For those who haven’t, Culliver is facing felony hit-and run and weapons charges from an incident that occurred last Friday in San Jose, Calif. Culliver allegedly hit a bicyclist and fled the scene. Culliver was also found in possession of brass knuckles. Fortunately, the cyclist sustained only minor injuries. In any event, it was a poor judgment and suggests bad character on Culliver’s part.
This incident could not have come at a worse time for Culliver, who was in the process of rebuilding his image following his widely publicized anti-gay remarks at the 2013 Super Bowl media day. Culliver missed the entire 2013 season after suffering an ACL injury in training camp. Culliver was never able to demonstrate his full potential on the field. Now, Culliver’s future with the 49ers, and even the NFL, looks bleak.
Culliver’s poor decision-making impacts not only himself but the organization as a whole. The 49ers will likely have to cut ties with Culliver—and rightfully so. If Culliver is released, the 49ers will become extremely thin at cornerback. The 49ers recently lost Carlos Rogers to the Raiders. Without Culliver, the 49ers would have Tramaine Brock, Perrish Cox, Eric Wright and Chris Cook as their CB core.
The 49ers already needed help at cornerback with Culliver largely unproven. Now, they are in a state of emergency with their secondary if Culliver departs. Before Culliver’s arrest, the 49ers could have targeted a wide receiver. My suggestion was to trade up to get Texas A&M’s Mike Evans.
Does Culliver’s arrest mean the 49ers should automatically draft a cornerback in the first round? It might seem like a no-brainer—except for the fact that this year’s wide receiver class is one of the best in recent memory, while the defensive back prospects are lackluster.
The problem with automatically drafting a cornerback as a knee-jerk reaction to Culliver’s arrest is that the 49ers are putting themselves back in the same position as in 2012, when they drafted A.J. Jenkins. In that offseason, the 49ers tried to address their need at wide receiver by settling for who was available at wide receiver in the late round. The gamble obviously didn’t pay off, and Jenkins left after one year in red and gold.
The 49ers are still in need of an over-the-top receiver and would be wise not to settle for a mediocre cornerback talent to fill a more pressing position need.
Yes, the 49ers are in desperate need for a cornerback, but there are other avenues they need to explore. Although Aquib Talib and most of the other premier defensive back free agents have been acquired by other teams, there are still several proven veteran free agents remaining.
I think the 49ers’ best bet is to add a veteran like Jabari Greer, who just turned 32 years old. Although Greer is coming back from ACL surgery, he was one of the Saints’ best defensive assets. Since Greer is coming off injury, he could likely be signed to a shorter deal for less money than Bailey.
Other potential candidates would be Washington’s Josh Wilson or former Falcon Asante Samuel.
The 49ers undoubtedly need to address their cornerback needs this offseason. While Culliver’s arrest now makes the situation more imperative, the 49ers cannot afford a repeat of the A.J. Jenkins draft. The 49ers need to choose the best talent available, even if that means choosing a wide receiver over a cornerback in the first round.