5 free agents 49ers will be glad they didn’t sign in 2022

James Conner #6 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
James Conner #6 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Eli Apple, Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple (20) Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 3: 49ers can be glad they didn’t sign CB Eli Apple

One of the priorities for John Lynch this offseason was to revamp the cornerback room, arguably the biggest defensive position in need of attention for the 49ers entering 2022.

The Niners’ big-ticket NFL free agency move here was to grab former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward, which will hopefully pay off nicely for the long run.

Yet San Francisco feasibly could have done more to both find an opposite starter and to beef up the depth chart.

Good thing the team didn’t go after still-Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple.

Apple, 6-foot-1 and 199 pounds, has the physical traits to be a quality boundary cornerback, yet he hasn’t seemed to put it all together on the field and has become something of a journeyman player. A year ago, his 86.6 passer rating allowed when targeted in coverage suggested an improvement over his previous two campaigns with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers, respectively, but that blown coverage against the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl nevertheless defined his first year with Cincy.

Perhaps the Bengals are looking at the bigger picture here, yet the 49ers probably saw the same kind of struggles with Apple that they had with their own cornerbacks on the roster last season and decided to pass.