Could there be an additional reinforcement at cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers as they prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals? Especially with the latest defender listed as questionable as of Friday, December 10?
The 49ers are already having to move on from Emmanuel Moseley, as the team’s emerging lockdown cover cornerback is out 2-4 weeks with a high ankle sprain and was officially ruled out for Sunday. Jason Verrett is already out with a season-ending knee injury.
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Now, Dontae Johnson was given the questionable label as 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan announced he’s dealing with a non-injury personal matter.
So now, what’s the plan if Johnson isn’t good to go in Cincy?
Shanahan Could Look to Add Help
Currently, there’s still the chance Johnson could suit up against the 7-5 Bengals.
“He’ll most likely be starting if he’s available,” Shanahan told the Bay Area media before departing for Ohio.
Shanahan is working with this active crew: Rookies Deommodore Lenoir and Ambry Thomas plus veterans K’Waun Williams and Josh Norman. But how will the 49ers counter if Johnson isn’t the fifth?
“Yeah, we’d have three outside guys left and we’d probably bring up someone from practice squad too,” Shanahan said.
It’s time to dive into who the practice squad options could be.
Both CBs are tall options
In the event Johnson isn’t a go in Cincy and S.F. dips into the practice squad, their options are both second-year players and stand at 6-foot-1.
Here’s the two possibilities:
Luq Barcoo: The 23-year-old from San Diego State measures at 6-foot-1, 175-pounds. He has 10 career tackles in stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Arizona Cardinals. He joined the 49ers’ practice squad on November 24 alongside former Carolina Panther and Green Bay Packers wide receiver Devin Funchess. While at SDSU, he was nominated for the Jim Thorpe Award.
And has this statistical claim via Pro Football Focus.
Saivion Smith: The 24-year-old has the same height, but has a 25-pound advantage over Barcoo. Like Barcoo, Smith shares a Jaguars connection as the former Alabama Crimson Tide defender began his NFL career in North Florida. In 2021, Smith has suited up for three different franchises: Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos and S.F. Smith was waived by the Seahawks before 2021 training camp, then was released by the Broncos on October 26. He signed with the 49ers practice squad on November 11. Smith also had a brief stint in the XFL before the pandemic.
The Athletic’s David Lombardi has additionally hinted that either Barcoo or Smith could be elevated.
Even if one or the other is promoted, Shanahan is confident the 49ers corners will be ready for Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase and company.
“Yeah, we are all ready,” Shanahan said. “You’re always concerned for any cornerbacks going against those real good skill players and quarterback like that, but it happens. We played Arizona earlier this year, they had two guys go out, they had to play two practice squad guys and those guys did their job the whole game, but they weren’t affected at all because the other nine did their job real well. You’d rather it be a different scenario, but we still can overcome that.”