49ers Warned Against Adding Veteran Once Signed to $22.5 Million Deal

Brandon Aiyuk

Getty The 49ers' Brandon Aiyuk catches a pass while sandwiched by Cardinal defenders Robert Alford (back) and Jalen Thompson during the Cards' November 7, 2021 road win.

The San Francisco 49ers have dealt with a mix of injuries but have witnessed promising play from their cornerback unit during their postseason run.

Yet, should the ‘Niners consider signing some upgrades during the 2022 free agency period at the position, they’re being encouraged to avoid adding a certain veteran cornerback who will soon be available come March 2022.

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And this corner, who once inked a three-year, $22.5 million deal during the February 2019 offseason period, already knows the 49ers well: He currently plays for a playoff team from San Francisco’s division.

Who the 49ers Should Avoid According to one Analyst

In a Bleacher Report article from Alex Kay called “1 Free Agent Each NFL Team Should Avoid This Offseason,” Kay is encouraging the ‘Niners to steer clear from adding Robert Alford of the Arizona Cardinals.

The same Alford who scored a big contract by the Cards. But missed a lot of time in two seasons due to devastating injuries ranging from a broken leg (2019 season) and a Grade 3 chest pectoral tear (2020).

Alford is currently on a one-year deal worth $990,000 according to Spotrac and is set to enter the free agency market come March 2022.

Kay is a believer that there will be changes within the 49ers’ cornerback position once the season concludes: Citing Josh Norman and Jason Verrett as two veterans “the team will likely part ways with.” Norman was recently benched for the 27-24 road win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, January 9 while Verrett got placed on injured reserve before the season began. Kay adds that K’Waun Williams, who has manned nickelback for the ‘Niners, could be another tough decision by the 49ers’ front office.

“It’s inevitable that San Francisco looks to the free agent pool to find at least one significant defensive back this offseason, but it should think hard before doling out a contract to Robert Alford,” Kay wrote.

What’s the reason behind Kay convincing the ‘Niners to prevent themselves from making a run at Alford?

2 Reasons Why

Age and injury concerns, that’s why.

On Alford’s end, he’s 33 years of age and has been in the league for eight seasons.

While Kay acknowledges the 5-foot-10 Alford has quietly established himself as a lockdown cornerback for the Cards, he still went down late with a pectoral injury in Week 14.

Before his injury, Alford delivered four pass breakups — including this one against the AFC’s top seeded team Tennessee that forced a turnover:

Also, Alford hasn’t put together a full season of starting since the 2017 season according to Pro Football Reference — which was during a time he was with the Atlanta Falcons.

His best statistical year was in 2017: When he produced career highs in tackles (68), solo stops (60) and pass breakups (20).

Alford is also likely remembered by Falcon fans for this play…in a game most Falcon fans likely would prefer to forget.

Again, Kay believes Alford’s past history with the IR list and his age should get the 49ers to look away.

“Alford managed to overcome two consecutive lost seasons to serve as Arizona’s top cornerback for most of the 2021 campaign. It was an impressive display from the 33-year-old but not one San Francisco should bet on him repeating,” Kay wrote.

Kay added: “Given his age and constant string of injuries over the past three seasons, the 49ers can’t afford to take a chance on Alford staying healthy in 2022, even if it comes at a budget cost.”

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