5 burning questions 49ers face entering 2022 season

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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K'Waun Williams, San Francisco 49ers
K’Waun Williams #24 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

49ers burning question No. 4: Who replaces K’Waun Williams at nickel cornerback?

Nickel cornerbacks are essentially starters now in today’s pass-happy NFL and the shift from base formations into sub packages with three wide receivers on the field at any given time.

From 2017 through 2021, San Francisco had one of the better nickel backs in K’Waun Williams, yet he left for the Denver Broncos during the offseason, further magnifying the 49ers’ already apparent weakness at cornerback.

The 49ers subsequently responded by adding former Toledo defensive back Samuel Womack in the NFL Draft, and Womack’s measurables remind many of what Williams offered to the Niners for so many years.

Assuming Womack develops, though.

San Francisco has options here, however, and it’s not entirely a bad situation to be in. A less-ideal choice would be for free safety Jimmie Ward to play nickel, although that’d free up another void at safety. But in the wake of the 49ers adding big-ticket cornerback Charvarius Ward in free agency, then re-signing fellow boundary corner Jason Verrett to another one-year deal, it’s feasible the Niners move Emmanuel Moseley into a nickel role this season.

That’s probably the fix, even if it means Womack won’t grace the field too much in year one.