Starter: Jimmie Ward
Backup: Dontae Johnson
Even if defensive back Jimmie Ward doesn’t move away from his starting job in base formations, the tendency of NFL offenses to use more three-wide sets means Ward could still see a lot of time over the slot.
And this means an increase in snaps for cornerback Dontae Johnson.
One might think fellow corner Kenneth Acker would be the favorite here but, as David Fucillo of Niners Nation pointed out, Acker doesn’t particularly play well in press-man coverage — a scheme likely to be employed by defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil.
Acker fell out of favor late last season too, and Johnson’s 6-foot-2 frame makes him a more likable option.
Next: Right Inside Linebacker