Analyst Calls for 49ers to Add Ex-Cornerback Once on $2.7 Million Deal

49ers secondary

Getty Members of the 49ers secondary during the Super Bowl on February 2, 2020.

No matter how well the San Francisco 49ers cornerback unit performs during this playoff run, the 49ers are still facing some offseason dilemmas.

One: Which free agent corners would they be willing to keep? Two: Which players during the free agent offseason period can be an instant upgrade?

And the third: Could it be someone who used to be a 49er?

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On Sunday, January 16 in Arlington, Texas, this unit helped contain a high-powered Dallas Cowboys wide receiving core that couldn’t surpass 65 receiving yards in the 23-17 road win to advance in the NFC playoffs. But again, even if the 2021 group manages to limit the big plays of Davante Adams and company on Saturday, January 22 in Green Bay, the 49ers have four from their CB unit expected to enter free agency. They are via Spotrac:

  • Jason Verrett, 30, $5,500,000 value
  • K’Waun Williams, 30, $2,377,500 million
  • Josh Norman, 34, $1,500,000 million
  • Dontae Johnson, 30, $1,075,000 million

If one, or none of the four return for 2022, one analyst from Pro Football Focus has offered this suggestion: Sign someone from within your division who not only played for the 49ers, but also played for an ex-49er. Here’s who Brad Spielberger suggested in his Thursday, January 20 article “One Free Agent Each NFL Team Should Pursue in the 2022 Offseason:”

This Cornerback Once Signed $2.7 Million Deal

D.J. Reed of the Seattle Seahawks is who PFF and Spielberger has suggested for the 49ers.

Per the PFF rankings metrics, Reed has been given a 78.6 overall player grade. He’s young at 25 years of age and he’s a California guy — having grown up in Bakersfield, located nearly four hours south of Levi’s Stadium.

He also once signed a four-year, $2,771,371 deal when he first entered the league in 2018 out of Kansas State. The 49ers took him at No. 142 overall in the fifth round of the draft.

Lack of playing time, however, hampered the 5-foot-9, 193-pounder’s 49er career. He got placed on the active/non-football injury list on July 28, 2020 by the team and then was waived on August 4 that same year. The next day, Reed was claimed off waivers by the Seahawks.

His playing time and numbers since went up playing for former 49ers linebacker and recently fired Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.: Starting in 22 of 24 games the last two seasons, tallying 140 tackles (108 solo) and snatching four interceptions (two apiece in 2020 and ’21) per Pro Football Reference.

One of those career picks came against the team he knew:

Outside of picks, he showed his recovery speed against the Pittsburgh Steelers this season.

Reed, however, is set to enter the free agency market in 2022 with his base salary at $920,000.

Why PFF Thinks Reed Would be a Good Fit Again

Here’s what Spielberger wrote about a possible re-linking between Reed and the ‘Niners, even citing one potential reverse situation involving both teams:

“Last offseason, the Seahawks signed longtime San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon before subsequently trading him to the Pittsburgh Steelers. This time around, we have the reverse situation, with San Francisco making a big addition to their secondary with Reed.

“Reed started full-time in 2021 and earned a 78.6 overall grade, buoyed by an 85.8 run-defense grade and a 75.4 coverage grade. He excelled on the outside, even at just 5-foot-9. He could be a major upgrade at cornerback for the 49ers without taking up too much money earmarked for edge defender Nick Bosa and others.”

Should Reed return, he’ll come at a reasonable, affordable value. And with his size, he’ll be an option at slot cornerback (or the nickel), especially if Williams parts ways with S.F. But again, it’s dependent upon who the 49ers keep in their secondary and who gets rich during the offseason on the team.

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