49ers Called ‘Best’ Fit for Steelers Free Agent Expecting Multiple Suitors

Jimmie Ward

Getty A possible Jimmie Ward free agency replacement was unveiled by ESPN on Tuesday, February 21.

The San Francisco 49ers have been called the “best team fit” for ESPN’s No. 28 ranked free agent for the 2023 class on Tuesday, February 21.

That free agent is cornerback Cameron Sutton — who’s at the end of his two-year, $9 million deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is likely to garner interest from others after delivering a career-best mark in interceptions with three. Here’s what Matt Bowen of ESPN wrote:

“Sutton will have multiple suitors given his flexibility to play in the slot; Tennessee, Atlanta and Las Vegas all work here. But with the number of 49ers defensive backs heading to free agency and Sutton’s ability to cover in man and find the ball in zone, the fit works in San Francisco with new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. Sutton posted three interceptions and 15 pass breakups for the Steelers in 2022, which were both career highs.”

Cameron Sutton Mentioned as Possible Replacement for 49ers Veteran Jimmie Ward

NFL free agency officially begins on March 15. Already, there’s the constant chatter of what will happen to veteran Jimmie Ward and who would be a suitable replacement as Ward enters free agency.

One name that has been mentioned as a possibility: C.J. Gardner-Johnson of the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles by FanSided’s Peter Panacy, who believes adding the safety/nickel will catapult the 49ers to the favorites to win it all. But Sutton is another from the Keystone State that bears some watching.

Sutton, 27, is entering his seventh season in the league. Along with improving his interception numbers, he produced a career-best 15 pass deflections. Sutton was equally stout in coverage.

Per Pro Football Reference Advanced Stats, Sutton surrendered no more than five catches each game and only allowed 35 catches his side for 388 yards. Opposing quarterbacks delivered a low 47.9% completion percentage when targeting him. He went on to allow no more than 65 yards his side in all 16 games he played.

Cameron Sutton Would Rejoin Ex-Teammate, Plus Examining Possible Linking With Steve Wilks

If Sutton were to come to the Bay Area, he would rejoin one former Steeler teammate of his in last season’s free agent acquisition Ray-Ray McCloud, who averaged 23 yards per kickoff return last season.

But in crossing over out west, Sutton would again link with a well-known defensive back whiz in the new defensive coordinator Wilks. While with the Carolina Panthers, Wilks got his CB unit to produce seven of the team’s 10 interceptions. His CB Donte Jackson played a similar role on the Carolina defense that Sutton played — and the end result there for Jackson was delivering his first career defensive touchdown while adding two interceptions and three pass deflections while surrendering 340 receiving yards and two touchdowns his side in nine games.

The 49ers look set at CB1 and CB2 moving forward after Charvarius Ward thrived in his first season with the 49ers and Deommodore Lenoir came on strong during the postseason by leading the team in picks. However, Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley are unrestricted free agents and there’s Jimmie Ward’s situation — which also leaves a void in the nickelback room should he drift off in free agency. The Steelers, meanwhile, may become adamant about wanting to keep Sutton — but that would come at the expense of likely releasing former 49er Ahkello Witherspoon along with William Jackson III.

Sutton may not be a household name or even a top 10 free agent by ESPN, but he can be an inexpensive addition to an area that could need depth come March 15.

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