Seahawks trade this former 49ers cornerback to Steelers
By Peter Panacy
Former 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon is on the move once again, this time going from the Seahawks to the Steelers via a trade on Friday.
So much for former San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon resurrecting his career within the NFC West.
The Niners’ Round 3 pick from the 2017 NFL Draft out of Colorado wasn’t re-signed after his rookie contract expired, and he ultimately chose to jump ship to San Francisco’s division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, signing a one-year deal worth $4 million.
After Witherspoon struggled during training camp and into the preseason, Seattle ultimately elected to cut its losses just ahead of the regular season.
On Friday, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Seahawks traded Witherspoon out of the conference entirely, sending him to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick:
This move effectively corresponds with Seattle’s prior acquisition of former Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Sidney Jones, which was announced on the Seahawks’ website two days earlier.
Ahkello Witherspoon had up-and-down tenure with 49ers
The fact the 49ers didn’t engage with Witherspoon about either a contract extension or a possible re-sign deal entering 2021 probably says everything one needs to know.
Witherspoon’s four-year tenure with the Niners was filled with both positives and negatives, and there were extremes on both sides. On one hand, Witherspoon emerged as a starting-caliber option his rookie year but only after being a full inactive his first four weeks.
In year two, Witherspoon’s regression was well-documented, and it prompted San Francisco to consider other contingency options within the secondary.
Read More: 49ers were wise to let Ahkello Witherspoon walk
Except for Witherspoon bounced back in a major way early in 2019, and fans won’t forget his pick-six touchdown in Week 1 of that season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Yet 2019 proved to be a microcosm of Witherspoon’s entire tenure with the 49ers, starting off strong before suffering a foot injury that opened up the door for reserve cornerback Emmanuel Moseley to emerge as the starting boundary corner opposite Richard Sherman that year.
Even when Witherspoon returned from his injury, he found himself regularly bounced from starting duties, including being benched in the divisional round of the 2020 playoffs.
Over the four-year span, Witherspoon tallied 117 tackles, 24 passes broken up, four interceptions and a defensive score over 47 games played, 33 of them starts.