49ers’ Cornerbacks: Where Injury Brings Opportunity


If you ever find yourself as a cornerback for the 49ers, you’d better do whatever you can to keep a firm hold onto your job.

Under Jim Harbaugh, the San Francisco 49ers have had an abundance of talent at plenty of positions. Especially at cornerback, where there has been a bit of shuffling and recycling.

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Throughout Harbaugh’s tenure, the starting corners have been pretty consistent. Carlos Rogers and Tarrell Brown started just about every game for two and a half seasons. However, the 2011 began the rising and falling of 49ers’ cornerbacks.

At the start of the 2011 season, Tramaine Brock beat out Chris Culliver for the third corner spot in nickel situations. Unfortunately for Brock, he got injured and Culliver replaced him permanently after the coaches liked what they saw out of Culliver.

The line-up of Rogers-Brock-Culliver was constant throughout the entire season. It wasn’t really until Brown was injured in the NFC Championship game that Brock saw significant playing time. Brock didn’t play terribly, but he didn’t play well either. It went as far as he got blamed for giving up a touchdown in that game. Fans were soured on Brock, and some even wanted him gone, which is a tad bit ironic when you look at where Brock is now.

The 49ers stuck with the same line-up throughout the entire 2012 season. It wasn’t until 2013 that it really got interesting.

Carlos Rogers was a former first round pick of the Washington Redskins. Many thought Rogers wasn’t capable of being a good cornerback in the NFL. He was even questioned about his eyes because of his inability to catch. But once Rogers came to the Harbaugh-led 49ers, his career was revived. He had the best year of his career in 2011, his first year with the 49ers. He was the first a few corners that would feel this resurgence.

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  • Before the 2013 season, many thought that Brock woudn’t make the team. Both Culliver and Nnamdi Asomugha were ahead of him on the depth chart, and they had plenty of cheaper rookies that could play his spot on special teams. But then, Culliver tore his ACL and was out for the season.

    Brock got his lucky break since the 49ers were now one down at corner. This was his chance to prove what he had. The 49ers brought in Asomugha to help fill Culliver’s role as the nickel corner. While Asomugha didn’t experience the same revival as Rogers, he expectedly was able to beat out Brock for Culliver’s spot.

    Early into the season, Asomugha was injured. Brock stepped up into his spot, and never relinquished it. Sounds familiar, right?

    While Brock didn’t turn it on as quickly as Rogers did, he was able to do it when it mattered. A couple more injuries eventually earned Brock a starting spot that he never gave up.

    Man, this is starting to get repetitive.

    This brings us to Perrish Cox. Cox was signed early 2012, as more of a depth signing. Cox was even released in the 2013 once Nick Moody came back from his injury. Cox was later picked up again, and even took over the nickel role while Rogers was injured in the playoffs.

    Now with Brock injured, Cox has been thrust into starting. How is he handling it? Take a guess.

    Cox’s is currently the team’s best corner, and ranks number five among all corner back according to Pro Football Focus.

    Is this another repeat of the dog eat dog world of 49ers’ cornerbacks? Will Cox give up his starting position when Brock returns? It’s hard to say, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.