Our 49ers.com training camp positional previews continue with a look at the 10 cornerbacks currently on San Francisco's roster. The depth and quality at the position will make the battle for roster spots one of the marquee storylines in camp.Returners:
Kenneth Acker, Tramaine Brock, Marcus Cromartie, Chris Davis, Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser and Jimmie Ward.Newcomers:
Prince Charles Iworah (Draft, Seventh Round, Western Kentucky), Will Redmond (Draft, Third Round, Mississippi State), Rashard Robinson (Draft, Fourth Round, LSU).What we know:
The new coaching staff has been enamored with Ward since they started working with the third-year pro during the offseason program.
"We don't know what Jimmie is going to be right now," defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil said back in May. "I know he's one of our best 11 (players). That I do know. So we're trying to find ways to get our best 11 on the field."
Ward played safety in college and has been deployed all over San Francisco's secondary during his first two NFL seasons. In 2015, the defensive back played in all 16 games (eight starts) as the team's primary nickel cornerback. Ward racked up 54 tackles, recorded his first career sacks and grabbed his first career interception – which he returned 29 yards for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears.
Here's how O'Neil described the skill set of the 49ers first-round pick in 2014:
"Just athletic ability, football knowledge, what his skillset brings to our defensive system. He's a guy that, just watching him and the way he's practiced and the way he's attacked the meeting rooms, he's a guy I know we have to get on the field."
Ward received plenty of first-team reps on the perimeter during the spring and will be a candidate to start as an outside cornerback this season.What we'll find out:
Cornerback is one of, if not the most competitive position group on the roster.
In addition to Ward, every corner who made an impact in 2015 is still on the team: Brock, Acker, Johnson, Cromartie, Reaser and Davis. Those seven are joined by the three 2016 draft choices: Redmond, Robinson and Iworah.
San Francisco's crop of defensive backs have the opportunity in camp to further develop their individual skills and better reach their potential in Chip Kelly's first season in the Bay Area. The coaching staff will spend the next month looking for which players have taken the next step in their progression.Quote of the offseason:
"What you love about him is, you like corners who have that dog in them, that confidence in him. He's got that. He's competitive, and you've got to have that in you." – defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley on Robinson.