Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee recently published a post quoting recently acquired San Francisco 49ers‘ cornerback Chris Cook talking about a “one-high safety scheme.” To be exact, Cook said:
They want me to be the press guy, and that’s what I like to do. I feel like I’ll fit in well with the one-high scheme that they like to run. I came from a two-high scheme. And I feel like a one-high scheme and a man-to-man scheme fits me well.
The significance of this quote is that the 49ers have not typically run a one-high safety scheme! So what, then, does cook mean by this? As Barrows points, out, the 49ers have been interested in big, tall, fast, cornerbacks this offseason, as have many teams following the success of the Seahawks’ secondary recently. Cooks himself is 6-2 and definitely has the physical tools to be a press corner, though his contract–one year for the league minimum–says much about the 49ers’ hopes for him. Nevertheless, the second round of this draft should have a good number of big, tall cornerbacks that could fit the one-high scheme that leaves cornerbacks on the outside man-to-man. Bashaud Breeland, from Clemson, has been linked to the 49ers recently as well, with Trent Baalke having a meal with him following his pro day.
With the facts on the table then–Cook’s quote and Baalke’s interest in bigger cornerbacks–it seems highly likely that some defensive changes are going to occur under the watch of recently-extended defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. These changes seem likely to mirror those in Seattle, though they will likely be limited to certain sets and not a wholesale makeover, as the 49ers defense has done pretty well for itself recently, too. The 49ers and Seahawks have traded players back and forth a lot over the past few years, and their teams are built in similar fashions. It only makes sense that the mirror image will become even more crystal clear. The best teams and coaches learn from their peers, and there is no shame in incorporating new systems from those that have been successful.