No. 8: Establish Consistency in the Secondary
Perhaps no position for the 49ers suffered more scrutiny and problems in 2018 than the defensive backfield.
Outside of veteran cornerback Richard Sherman, there was a complete lack of consistency and production, which resulted in the team shuffling through a number of different combinations — hardly any of which were particularly effective.
San Francisco 49ers
No. 2 cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon led the Niners with seven penalties on the year, and he was also Pro Football Focus‘ 112th ranked cornerback out of 112 qualifiers (that’s last, if you couldn’t figure it out) before landing on injured reserve. Similarly, free safety Adrian Colbert came in dead last, per PFF, among qualifiers as well before he landed on IR with a high-ankle sprain.
There are likely going to be some moves here this offseason, perhaps on the free-agent market or in the NFL Draft.
Those are needed. But it’s also important to develop both Witherspoon and Colbert, as well as continue working on depth players.
Depth was tested to the extreme in 2018. San Francisco used seven different safeties during the year, largely due to injuries and attrition.
And in today’s pass-happy NFL, quality cover players are highly valuable. Especially when you reach the playoffs. Look no further than how the Patriots defensive backs shut down the Rams’ receiving targets in Super Bowl LIII.