Why 49ers picked cornerback Thomas at end of third round

/ by Matt Maiocco
Presented By Big O Tires

The cornerback position was probably the 49ers’ top need entering Day 2 of the draft, and the team addressed that area with the selection of Michigan cornerback Ambry Thomas.

Thomas opted out of the 2020 season, so it is possible the 49ers got good value for him at the end of the third round, No. 102 overall.

Because the 49ers might already have their starters in the fold, there is no pressure on Thomas to come in immediately and win a job.

But he should make an impact from Week 1 of the regular season on special teams, both in coverage and as a kick returner.

Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley look well-positioned to be the 49ers’ starters. The club also remains in contact with veteran Richard Sherman.

Because of the typical attrition at the cornerback position, there is a strong likelihood that Thomas will have to step in at some point in the season.

He has good size (6-foot, 191 pounds) and physicality. He also possesses outstanding speed. In 2019, he was a third-team All-Big Ten honoree after defending seven passes and registering three interceptions.

The 49ers passed on cornerbacks with their two earlier picks on Friday, opting to continue to address the offense.

RELATED: 49ers fill need, earn solid grade with Thomas

The 49ers traded back from No. 43 overall and passed on the opportunities to draft cornerbacks Kelvin Joseph (Kentucky) and Asante Samuel Jr. (Florida State).

Guard Aaron Banks of Notre Dame was the 49ers’ pick at No. 48 overall. Then, the 49ers traded into the middle of the third round for Ohio State running back Trey Sermon.


Thomas appears to be a good fit for the 49ers’ defensive scheme. The team was running out of options, and Thomas might have presented one of the final chances for the 49ers to add a talented cornerback with a strong chance to develop into a starter.

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