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Chris Culliver has been a pleasant surprise
Chris Culliver was selected in the third round of this past year's draft. I was surprised the 49ers picked him that high, as most draft boards projected him being selected around the fifth or sixth round.
When the 49ers drafted Culliver, they expected him to play mostly special teams this year and work in practice on improving his coverage skills. Culliver played safety in his first couple years of college and did not switch to the corner until his junior season.
With the injuries to Shawntae Spencer and Tramaine Brock, Culliver has seen a lot of playing time as the nickel defensive back. I don't think GM Trent Baalke expected Culliver to see this much action in his first year, but the rookie has played fairly well, for the most part.
He has impressed me with solid tackling ability, but does make mistakes in pass coverage. He has a tendency to lay off the receiver too far and allow catches underneath too easily. Culliver has also been beaten deep on occasion, resulting in scores for the opposition.
It appears as though head coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio do not plan to play Shawntae Spencer, last year's starter, much at all. Spencer is back from his early season injuries, but he still rarely sees the field.
This means Culliver is likely to retain his nickel back spot and if that's the case, he will need to improve on his pass coverage.