Editor’s Update: The Niners have traded Rashard Robinson to the New York Jets in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick in 2018.
It’s pretty clear the 49ers put too much faith in cornerbacks Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson during training camp and the preseason.
Robinson, in particular, has been the biggest issue. Not only has he been a liability in coverage, but his 10 total flags — eight of which were enforced — rank second among all players through eight weeks’ action.
That’s bad. Like, on a weekly basis bad.
No wonder the 49ers finally elected to move Robinson out of a starting job in Week 8, replacing him with rookie corner Ahkello Witherspoon.
What the 49ers Are Doing Well
Not much. Making the switch from Robinson to Witherspoon was needed, but we’re likely to see the rookie go through many of the growing pains young defensive backs experience. He does have one of the five interceptions San Francisco has registered this season, though.
What Needs Improvement
Johnson, Robinson and nickel corner K’Waun Williams all ranked at Nos. 91, 105 and 113, respectively, according to Pro Football Focus, out of 115 qualifiers. While Robinson’s penalties have gotten him into trouble, Williams has been a notable liability out of the slot.
Teams are taking advantage of this too, targeting Williams every 4.3 cover snaps, per PFF, which is a league high.
Williams has been dealing with a quad injury, which forced the Niners to bring aboard the veteran, Leon Hall. It’s doubtful that will make a huge difference.
Needless to say, cornerback will be a major position of need this offseason.