The 49ers’ top two cornerbacks from last season are both scheduled for free agency. It seems likely one can be re-signed and one will not.
The organization appears confidentthat Tramaine Brock, who entered last season as the team’s top cornerback, can return to his 2013 form next season. He played about a dozen healthy snaps all season.
Brock exited the season opener with “turf toe,” then was ineffective when he tried to return six weeks later against the Denver Broncos. Brock saw action in just three games, finishing the season on the sideline with a hamstring injury.
Brock led the 49ers with five interceptions and 15 passes broken up in 2013. The most likely cornerback to start on the other side is Perrish Cox, who led the 49ers last season with five interceptions and 18 passes defensed.
Cox said this week there is nothing going on with a possible 49ers contract extension. But league sources indicate he will likely be more affordable than Chris Culliver, who is also scheduled for free agency.
Cox, 28, started 14 games last season. It was the most he played in his career, and the first time he started since his rookie season of 2009 with the Denver Broncos. Cox bounced around the previous two seasons with the 49ers. But if Cox hits the open market, it's possible the Chicago Bears will be interested. Cox excelled under secondary coach Ed Donatell, whom he knew from his time with the Broncos. Donatell and former 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio are now with the Bears.
Culliver, 26, had a strong bounce-back season after missing all of 2013 with a torn ACL sustained in training camp. Culliver had four interceptions and 15 passes defensed while starting a career-high 14 games.
A third-round draft pick in 2011, Culliver is expected to get some attention on the free-agent market. However, there are some off-field concerns with Culliver. A hearing in Santa Clara County Superior Court last Wednesday established a future court date for Culliver, who was charged with felony possession of brass knuckles and two misdemeanors in a collision with a bicyclist in San Jose in March.
The 49ers are not likely to re-sign both cornerbacks. The 49ers have salary-cap concerns that will force them to make some choices. OverTheCap.com lists the 49ers as $3.787 million under the projected salary cap, while Spotrac.com has the 49ers as $1.577 million under.
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In addition to Jimmie Ward, who returns for his second season as the team's nickel back, three cornerbacks from the 2014 draft class -- Dontae Johnson, Kenneth Acker and Keith Reaser -- remain under contract to the 49ers. Johnson ended up playing a lot as a rookie. Acker had an impressive training camp before going on injured reserve with a stress fracture in his foot. Reaser spent the entire season on the non-football injury list after undergoing two ACL surgeries.