K’Waun Williams is the 49ers Most Important Cornerback to Re-Sign in 2021

Nick_Newman

Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, K’Waun Williams, and Jaquiski Tartt all will become unrestricted free agents at the start of the next league year. Furthermore, Emmanuel Moseley is set to become an exclusive rights free agent (ERFA).

As an ERFA, the team won’t have a hard time retaining the services of Moseley. Removing Moseley from the equation, who should the team prioritize out of Sherman, Witherspoon, and Williams?

The answer is simple: Williams. Here’s why.

Williams plays a vital position in today’s NFL -- slot corner. He also plays the position at an extremely high level. Pro Football Focus (PFF) gave Williams an overall grade of 80.3, which ranked seventh best among all qualifying corners.

Specifically looking at those in the slot, Williams ranked second behind Quinton Dunbar (87.6 overall) who played for Washington. Now Dunbar is a Seahawk, and his stint with the Seahawks may be over before it ever starts.

Dunbar and New York Giants corner Deandre Baker allegedly were involved in an armed robbery earlier this offseason. To make matters worse, word broke last week that Dunbar and Baker allegedly paid off the victims of the robbery.

With Dunbar’s season and career up in the air, strong arguments could be made that Williams is now the best slot corner in the NFL.

Last season (including playoffs), Williams generated:

  • 66 combined tackles
  • 2 sacks
  • 5 forced fumbles
  • 2 passes defensed
  • 2 interceptions

Not bad for the 2014 undrafted free agent out of Pittsburgh. John Lynch deserves a lot of credit for signing Williams in 2017 after he was out of football the entire 2016 season.

Since 2017, Williams leads the entire 49ers secondary in regular-season tackles (150), tackles for loss (9), sacks (2), QB hits (5), interceptions (3), interceptions (80), and forced fumbles (6).

Quietly, Williams has been one of, if not the most consistent secondary player since Lynch, Kyle Shanahan, and Robert Saleh took over.

The 49ers should consider extending Williams now-

In the beginning weeks of the 2017 regular season, Williams signed a three-year, $8.85 million contract extension.

Williams is set to make $2.4 million this year, and will have made just under $10 million with the team by the time his current contract expires. Since signing his last contract extension, Williams has likely doubled his market value.

After not receiving much recognition last season, Williams has received a ton of attention this offseason as being the most underrated and underappreciated player on defense. 

The 49ers would be wise to extend him now, before he puts together another strong season. The longer the team waits, the more leverage Williams can create for himself. And the more leverage he creates, the more likely he’ll price himself out of the 49ers budget.

When Williams hits the market, he’ll look to sign his first and possibly last big contract in the NFL. The 49ers shouldn’t let it get to that point, because once the new league year starts he’ll be salivating over what he could get on the open market.

At the age of 29, Williams has a handful of productive years ahead of him. Extending Williams for another three seasons or so would be an encouraging step towards ensuring the team’s pass defense remains one of the best in the NFL.

The 49ers should prioritize Williams over Sherman-

Williams plays a commonly cheap position. Sherman does not. Sherman has a cap hit of nearly $14 million dollars on the upcoming season. He’s the third-highest-paid corner, the fourth-highest-paid cornerback and 77th-highest-paid player in the NFL.

To put that in perspective, Williams is the 17th-highest-paid 49er, 52nd-highest-paid corner and 525th-highest-paid player in the NFL. Slot corners are paid less than outside corners, because they aren’t on the field during base downs.

Though, today’s NFL is a passing league. More often than not, team’s are in three-wide-receiver sets. It is only a matter of time until the market for slot corners goes up, simply because they’re finding themselves on the field more and more frequently. Ultimately they’re becoming more and more valuable.

Sherman is one of a handful of big names on the 49ers who are set to be free agents. In addition to Sherman, George Kittle, Trent Williams, Kyle Juszczyk, and a handful of others will be free agents come 2021.

Giving Sherman another contract, even if it is a short one, will likely make it very difficult to bring back key players such as Juszczyk.

When taking into consideration Kittle and Trent Williams, Sherman is not even a top-two priority to bring back next season. While he is still playing at an extremely high level, he will be 33 going into next season.

As long as the 49ers continue to holster an elite pass rush, they can get away with moving on from Sherman. That is all the more reason to prioritize Williams. Williams will come at a cheaper price in comparison to Sherman, and won’t jeopardize the team’s ability to bring back other key players.

This season is huge for Moseley and Witherspoon, as their play will likely dictate whether or not the team could afford to move on from Sherman. As long as Moseley continues to develop and Witherspoon shows he can be consistent, the 49ers may be happy to move forward with them starting at the outside spots.

With a lot of uncertainty surrounding key players coming back next year, having the confidence to move forward with Moseley, Witherspoon, and Williams at the corner spots would go a long way towards retaining the services of Kittle, Williams, Juszczyk and even Robbie Gould.

Extend Williams before it is too late.

Follow me on Twitter: @NinerNick_22

Comments (6)
No. 1-4
Niner4life41
Niner4life41

Kuan Williams is underrated. Most football fans don’t know who he is. He too was another undrafted free agent, just like Mostert and Moseley and Brunskill. Man the hidden gems we find that most of the league passed on is amazing. I hope we lock Williams up to an extension if he doesn’t demand too much in the open market next offseason. If not than we will probably have to see if Tim Harris or some of the young guys can step up if Lynch feels he’s asking for too much.

datank07
datank07

I completely agree K’waun has been significantly undervalued in the 49ers defense success. He creates absolute havoc on corner blitzes, reliable tackler not afraid to tackle anyone and very sticky and scrappy in coverage. In addition, he creates turnovers with interceptions, forced fumbles, strip sacks, qb hurries. He is the one db the 49ers need to extend. Moseley should be extended before he out prices the 49ers in a few years when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Sherman should be the second highest priority. Tartt is a great safety, but due to cap restraints they will need to draft a safety next year. Marcell Harris isn’t the answer, he is a liability in coverage and goes for the big hits instead of keeping his head up and making reliable tackles.

Niner4life41
Niner4life41

Sherman is still playing at a high level and his leadership can’t be replaced. I’d like to keep Sherm around for another two years. He can still play good ball til he’s 34. The drop off from Sherman to Witherspoon is much greater than the drop off from Williams to DJ Reed. Moseley can also play the slot. We definitely aren’t going to rely on Witherspoon as Sherman’s replacement. He’s just way too inconsistent. I won’t be surprised if he gets cut this year. No starting corner has given up more touchdowns the last two seasons than Witherspoon. He was awful in 2018 and he was a disaster down the stretch last year. It’s time to move on from Spoon. If they decided to not pay Sherman then they better replace him with a top pick in the 2021 draft. Moseley is a no brainer decision to keep. Tartt may be gone after this year as I don’t see them resigning him because he’s been too injury prone to keep at 6 million a year. That’s why the Jamal Adams trade rumors are valid. We will need a new starting strong safety after this year and Marcell Harris is the next man up. Adding Jamal Adams would not only address the absence of Tartt leaving but it could be the move that gets over the top.

Dallas9er
Dallas9er

Sherman at over 30yrs old is the 3rd highest paid corner in the NFL? Guess he has a point in not needing an agent, especially since he negotiated that after tearing his achilles


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