49ers NFL Draft 2022: 5 cornerbacks San Francisco must target

Trent McDuffie #22 of the Washington Huskies (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Trent McDuffie #22 of the Washington Huskies (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /
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Myles Jones, Texas A&M
Texas A&M Aggies defensive back Myles Jones (10) reacts after breaking up a pass intended for Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver Jordan McCray (12) Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

Three weeks into the 2021 season, the 49ers are experiencing plenty of issues at cornerback, meaning these five NFL Draft prospects should be on the radar.

The San Francisco 49ers are currently paying the price for not investing more at cornerback over the last two years.

It was a small but noticeable shock not to see general manager John Lynch go after a corner in the 2020 NFL Draft, yet it’s slightly forgivable given the Niners only took home five prospects that year. In this year’s draft, however, Lynch waited until the tail end of Round 3 to grab a cornerback, Ambry Thomas, before restocking with fifth-round rookie Deommodore Lenoir shortly afterward.

Yet the biggest hitch, and likely the biggest mistake, was hoping No. 1 corner Jason Verrett would stay healthy for a second consecutive season. After Verrett tore his ACL in Week 1, that hope went right out the window.

Additionally, Thomas has struggled and is now relegated to the weekly inactive list after opting out of his 2020 collegiate season at Michigan. While it’s still possible Thomas rebounds in due time, the early results have been less than stellar.

So far, three weeks into San Francisco’s 2021 campaign, cornerback is proving to be a major liability. Lenoir has flashed promise but has also taken his lumps, while the 49ers have scrambled for scrap-heap free-agent additions like Josh Norman, Dre Kirkpatrick and Buster Skrine to help alleviate additional injuries and shortcomings.

Yes, it’s a long way away. But the Niners have to be thinking about using some of their limited 2022 NFL Draft capital on cornerbacks, probably as soon as their first pick in next year’s draft, Round 2.

Here are five prospects San Francisco has to be thinking about.