Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Cornerback Tramaine Brock's outstanding 2013 season forced him up San Francisco's depth chart.
Cornerback: Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver, Eric Wright and 2014 NFL draftee
If the wide receiver position has garnered the most attention from 49ers fans approaching the 2014 NFL draft, cornerback should not be that far behind.
This position is very thin after losing veteran corners Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers during the offseason.
While the team was able to add former Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook and they re-signed Eric Wright, there is likely still some work to be done here.
Nos. 1 and 2: Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver
Tramaine Brock's stellar 2013 season warrants this selection as San Francisco's top cornerback entering the season.
His five interceptions and 15 defended passes were reason enough to give the 49ers the ability to part ways with Brown and Rogers, thus alleviating some salary cap concerns.
Lining up alongside Brock will be Chris Culliver, who missed all of 2013 due to injury.
Culliver—whose homophobic remarks before Super Bowl XLVII put him on national radar—has also suffered from some off-the-field issues as of late. These issues, described further by Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee, are a sore spot but probably not enough to warrant the 49ers from relying on him this season.
While talented, neither one of these cornerbacks are considered elite—perhaps reflecting upon the 49ers' theory of relying more on their pass rush up front than their secondary shutting down receivers.
Still, the secondary has to be considered the team's biggest weakness on defense—an aspect also argued by Paul Sarconi of BaySportsReport.com.
To fix this, look for the 49ers to dip into a deep pool of talented corners this draft.
Even if they do so, San Francisco loves its veterans and will likely give the Opening Day nod to Brock and Culliver, at least to start the season.
Nos. 3 and 4: Eric Wright and Rookie TBD
With Brock and Culliver holding down the Nos. 1 and 2 corner positions, Wright will likely be the third man on San Francisco's cornerback depth chart.
Unlike any rookie coming up through the draft, Wright has practical NFL experience—an element that Jim Harbaugh and Co. love when it comes to assembling a starting lineup.
Wright will undeniably hope to replicate the same success he enjoyed as a member of the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions earlier in his career. The chance to completely resurrect his career with his hometown team in San Francisco adds further motivation.
So can Wright capitalize on the opportunity?
The 49ers think he can, reflected by his re-signing of a one-year, $900,000 contract during the offseason.
As Michael David Smith of NBC Sports writes:
When Wright is 100 percent physically and mentally, he has shown flashes of being a very good player. Unfortunately, Wright hasn’t always been 100 percent physically and mentally ... But Wright was able to get on the field for the 49ers late in the regular season and in the playoffs, and they like his potential. He’s still just 28 years old and should have some good football ahead of him.
Let's bank on Wright getting the nod at No. 3 cornerback for now. While a rookie corner could certainly overtake him on the depth chart, that point will probably not come right away. Rookie corners often take a season or two to adjust to the speed and physicality of the NFL.
With that in mind however, it is possible the 49ers do wind up landing a talented corner early in the draft.
Exactly who is anyone's guess. ESPN Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. projects San Francisco interest in corners Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert (h/t Cam Inman of The San Jose Mercury News). Jason Verrett and Pierre Desir are also intriguing options.
Depending on who and where the 49ers draft for this position, and how that prospect develops during training camp, expect Harbaugh to give a shot for this rookie corner to compete for a spot within the top four positions on San Francisco's depth chart.
This would likely mean Cook is either relegated to backup duty, special teams or released altogether.
Storyline to Watch
Everything regarding this position here on out will focus on the draft. A rookie corner has the potential to break into perhaps the top two positions, although any speculation of the sort is yet to be determined.