49ers: Open competition has emerged at the cornerback position

49ers (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /
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49ers (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers have decided to leave the second cornerback position up for grabs.

On a unit as talented and formidable as the San Francisco 49ers‘ defense, competition would seem to be scarce. At most positions within defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s group, that’s certainly the case.

But even for the defense that ranked second in the league in 2019 by Football Outsider’s DVOA metric, some uncertainty looms at one position — starting outside cornerback alongside veteran Richard Sherman.

Saleh recently declared the open battle for the second cornerback position, hoping for one player to emerge from the pack.

“Obviously, we’d like to see a competition over there,” Saleh said Tuesday on a video call with Bay Area reporters. “It is wide open, if you want to call it that.”

Now, there doesn’t have to be an open competition for the job, as 2018 undrafted rookie Emmanuel Moseley played well last season in the role after taking over for the struggling Ahkello Witherspoon, eventually earning enough trust to line up alongside Sherman in Super Bowl LIV.

However, with the abundance of talent that the 49ers possess at nearly every position, why not find the one player at cornerback who shines the brightest during training camp?

The team can afford to let things play out, knowing that if a player falters or suffers an injury, they have plenty of quality depth to fall back on.

It’s definitely not the traditional uncertainty that plagues other franchises, where the caliber of a player drops off significantly after the starters. You might call this a good problem for the 49ers.

All that said, let’s look at the contenders for the second starting cornerback job.