No. 5: Nickel Cornerback
Likely Candidates for the Position: Will Redmond, Keith Reaser, Dontae Johnson and Chris Davis
The 49ers love to insert up-and-coming defensive backs into the nickel corner role. Just take a look at what the team did with former 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver his first year in San Francisco as well as defensive back Jimmie Ward in 2014 and 2015.
Ward is probably going to wind up playing exclusively on the outside, which means this position opens back up for a plethora of young corners on the roster.
According to defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil (h/t Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee), the three with the most intrigue here are rookie Will Redmond, Keith Reaser and Chris Davis.
Redmond, whom the Niners selected in Round 3 of the 2016 NFL Draft, could be seen as the front-runner out of this group. Reaser has seen his stock fall since his 2014 draft year and managed to play just 82 snaps last season.
Another player to watch is 6-foot-2 cornerback Dontae Johnson, whose size alone makes him an intriguing commodity. Johnson can play outside as well, but a strong camp might mean the 49ers would want him on the field as much as possible.
And with NFL offenses frequently using three-wide receiver sets, the nickel role is no less important.
Predicted Winner: Will Redmond
Next: No. 4: Inside Linebacker