No. 4: Bolstering 49ers’ cornerback depth with Petey Jones
The first major need for the 49ers is to improve their cornerback situation, both for the 2020 season in terms of depth and also for the next several seasons.
It’s no secret the Niners currently have zero cornerbacks with any NFL experience signed past the 2020 season, with all three starters from the end of 2019: Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Moseley and slot corner K’Waun Williams scheduled for free agency.
Beyond the starters, the 49ers cornerback depth will also be hit, with players like Ahkello Witherspoon, Jason Verrett, Dontae Johnson and Teez Tabor all set to hit the free-agent market at the close of this season.
Say what you want about the quality of those players, but it’s pretty certain that having bad players line up at cornerback would be better than having no players there.
This is a slight exaggeration. They’ll have guys under contract who can play the position; just very few who, as of this writing, have played much cornerback in the NFL.
For a solution to this problem, we turn to the 2000 Denzel Washington starrer, Remember the Titans, a film based on the true events of a Northern Virginia high school that was integrated in the early 1970s.
The Titans in the film had a defensive back by the name of Petey Jones, who begins the season as a running back, but eventually becomes a star on the defensive side of the ball once it’s clear Ryan Gosling’s Alan Bosley isn’t getting the job done.
The move turned out to be a good one for Petey, as he went from warming the bench to being an integral part of the Titans defense.
Petey proved to be a tenacious defender who stuck to his man on the outside and a sure tackler when the offensive player did get the ball in his hands. This is something the 49ers defense could use, even if he’s more of a dime package/special teams guy to start out.
Jones would have to explain his choice to bail on his team during the championship game, which would be a character concern. But if he could, he’d be an asset for the defense.
He’s young, which means there would be a lot of room for growth and the potential for Jones to be a vital part of the 49ers defense for years to come.