49ers roster: Predicting cornerback depth chart after NFL Draft

Emmanuel Moseley #41 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Emmanuel Moseley #41 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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Richard Sherman, SF 49ers
Richard Sherman #25 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images) /

49ers depth-chart battles, storylines to watch

Like most offseason rosters, the Niners have no shortage of bodies at cornerback heading into minicamps, OTAs and training camp. There could always be some shuffling, particularly at the back end of the roster. But head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have historically stressed drafting players they felt had an excellent shot at making the 53-man roster.

Hence why players like Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir are largely safe. At least for now.

Yet, if San Francisco ends up adding another player, things could change quite a bit.

Do 49ers re-sign Richard Sherman?

Lynch and Shanahan have remained businesslike with their thoughts on possibly re-signing Richard Sherman, although there’s been some buzz about a possible reunion.

Having just turned 33 years old and coming off a season where his calf muscles were bothering him, it’s safe to assume the five-time Pro Bowler is no longer close to the peak of his career.

That said, Sherman’s experience alone could be a useful commodity in assisting players like Thomas and Lenoir acclimate properly.

Will DeMeco Ryans retain a zone-style system?

One of the adjustments former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh made, partially in 2019 and then again in 2020, was to use a bit less zone coverage in his pass defense and a bit more press-man.

Both Thomas and Lenoir are more press-man cover players, although Lenoir might not have the quick-twitch abilities to keep up with slot receivers in the middle of the field. Lenoir primarily played on the boundary during his time at Oregon. So putting him in more zone coverages, assuming he predominantly plays nickel, might play to his strengths.

First-year defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans will have some decisions to make, and tweaking the scheme he inherited to maximize first-year players’ best attributes might be a big part of the goal.

Can Jason Verrett, K’Waun Williams stay healthy?

It’s just as big a question for the regular season. But not lost on the Niners’ offseason moves is the fact both Jason Verrett and K’Waun Williams have injury histories.

Yes, Verrett was healthy for the first time since 2015, which was great news. Yet one can’t overlook the fact he appeared in just six regular-season games between 2016 and 2019.

Williams, meanwhile, missed eight games last year because of multiple injuries.

While San Francisco reinforced the depth behind those two this offseason, players like Thomas and Lenoir may not be ready to step into starting roles right away if either Verrett or Williams suffers a lengthy injury.