49ers have to target these 4 free-agent cornerbacks in 2022
By Peter Panacy
A lack of cornerback depth has plagued the 49ers for almost all of 2021, meaning NFL free agency should be a means to bolster this group this offseason.
The San Francisco 49ers made a terrible mistake entering 2021 by banking on the hope veteran cornerback Jason Verrett could stay healthy for the entire season.
Instead, Verrett suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 1, adding to his long list of debilitating injuries that otherwise thwarted what was a promising NFL career coming out of college at TCU years ago.
A free agent in 2022, Verrett will likely join fellow veteran corner Josh Norman as a player the Niners won’t bring back during the offseason. Additionally, San Francisco faces another challenge with pending free-agent nickel back K’Waun Williams, who despite being on the wrong side of 30 years old, has remained a key member of the team’s secondary.
There’s also the hope the 49ers get further contributions from their two rookie cornerbacks drafted in 2021, Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir. But the lack of depth here, so painfully revealed in so many games this season, suggests the Niners have to act aggressively on the NFL free agency market this upcoming offseason.
And these four pending free-agent corners have to be on San Francisco’s radar.
49ers Cornerback Target No. 4: Darious Williams, Rams
Re-signing Williams has to be one of the 49ers’ top priorities this upcoming offseason, but the Niners could also look at another Williams as a contingency plan.
Los Angeles Rams cornerback Darious Williams has a similar build — 5-foot-9 and 187 pounds — as his NFC West counterpart, and like the Niners’ own nickel corner, the Rams’ Williams also plays much bigger than his size would indicate.
Williams doesn’t receive the praise fellow Los Angeles corner Jalen Ramsey receives, but Williams has been more than effective the last three seasons, notching six interceptions and 22 pass breakups during that span over 38 games with the Rams, 21 of them starts.
With opposing quarterbacks posting a 63.9 passer rating against him a year ago, it makes sense why Los Angeles levied a first-round restricted free-agent tender on him last offseason.
It’s unclear whether or not the Rams will pony up what’ll likely be a nice payday for Williams in 2022, but San Francisco would surely benefit with this zone-style defensive back as a younger addition to bolster the secondary while purging an NFC West rival.