49ers Should Draft a Cornerback in the First Round

It's about time the 49ers make a real investment into the position instead of trying to hit on late round players or fill it with veterans in free agency.
Tennessee wide receiver Kaleb Webb (84) reaches for the ball while defended by Alabama defensive
Tennessee wide receiver Kaleb Webb (84) reaches for the ball while defended by Alabama defensive / Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA

What should the San Francisco 49ers do when they are on the clock at the NFL draft with pick No. 31?

That has been the constant question asked for the last month. It is difficult to imagine who they will take and what they will do in the first round since they are picking right near the end of the round.

Options are there for the 49ers, but I imagine they will want to actually make a first round selection, so I am ruling out a trade down. That leaves them to either stand pat or trade up. Whatever move they end up choosing, it should lead them towards drafting a cornerback in the first round.

It is time for the 49ers to finally make a serious draft investment at cornerback. For years, this regime has been looking for that anchor at outside cornerback, but it has mainly derived from free agency. It started with the roll of the dice with Richard Sherman, then Jason Verrett, and now Charvarius Ward.

Free agency cannot be their continued answer at the position. They need a cornerback for the long haul once and for all. Drafting one in the first round gives them that long-term answer with the five-year rookie contract if they end up picking up the final year option.

Having a long-term answer is crucial for the 49ers because their two anchors, Ward and Deommodore Lenoir, are on the last year of their deals. I would imagine that the 49ers will favor Lenoir since he is younger and will be cheaper, especially if they keep him as a nickel.

Regardless, they have no future at the position. So, unless they want cornerback to be like how the defensive line was this year during free agency where they shuffle in a whole new cast, then the 49ers should look to draft a cornerback. Alabama's Kool-Aid McKinstry is one prospect who would be sweet to get.

The issue is that he probably won't be there for the 49ers at No. 31. There is also Iowa's T.J. Tampa, Missouri's Ennis Rakestraw Jr., and Michigan's Mike Sainristil. These three might be better off getting in the second, but I don't see the issue for the 49ers to reach a bit here if it means they get that fifth-year option.

Offensive line has been the position most talked about and mocked to the 49ers in round one, but cornerback is just as important. Veteran signings in free agency should not prevent the 49ers from pulling the trigger on one.

Draft a cornerback early once and for all and have a player bring some solidification to the position for the next four years.

Jose Sanchez