3 free agents who could start for 49ers right now

J.C. Tretter #64 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
J.C. Tretter #64 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
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Mackensie Alexander, Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander (24) Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers free-agent target No. 3: Cornerback Mackensie Alexander

The 49ers elected to let their long-time starting nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams walk in NFL free agency during the offseason, him signing a new deal with the Denver Broncos instead of returning.

That might have been the right move. After all, the soon-to-be 31-year-old Williams is getting up there in age, and some may have argued he was losing a step in his playmaking ability.

The Niners’ long-term contingency plan might already be on the roster, as they selected former Toledo cornerback Samuel Womack in Round 5 of the 2022 NFL Draft, and it’s hard not to see the similarities between the rookie and Williams.

However, rookies don’t always pan out. And even if they do, it can take a few years.

If San Francisco wants to grab a starting-caliber nickel corner right now, it could do worse than go after former Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander.

Sure, Alexander’s 2021 campaign with the Vikings wasn’t particularly great, him allowing opposing quarterbacks to pass for a 119.2 passer rating with five touchdowns when targeting him in coverage.

However, that was by far the worse season Alexander has had at the pro level, and he never allowed a single-season passer rating above 85 before that. Plus, last year’s Minnesota defense was a mess.

The 49ers should take a flier, and nickel corners rarely cost that much.