Eight different cornerbacks started games for the 49ers last season.
And they all have one thing in common.
Richard Sherman. K’Waun Williams. Jason Verrett. Emmanuel Moseley. Ahkello Witherspoon. Dontae Johnson. Jamar Taylor. Brian Allen.
Not one of them has a contract for the 2021 season.
And that means general manager John Lynch has a lot of work to do, as he looks to piece together the 49ers’ starting defensive backfield, as well as a group of reliable reserves, for the 2021 season.
The 49ers' dearth of depth and talent at cornerback is a big reason the club could look to select a cover man in the first round for the first time since Mike Rumph was the selection at No. 27 overall in 2002.
The most reasonable options for the 49ers if they select a cornerback at No. 12 overall are Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech), Patrick Surtain II (Alabama) and Jaycee Horn (South Carolina).
But, first, the 49ers have some work to do in free agency.
The most likely starter to return to the 49ers is Emmanuel Moseley, who is scheduled to be a restricted free agent this offseason.
The 49ers can try to sign him to a contract extension before the open negotiating period on March 15. If they are not successful, they are expected to place a tender on him for some form of security.
With a one-year tender of approximately $2 million, the 49ers would have the right to match any offer sheet but with no compensation. With a second-round tender of approximately $3.5 million, the 49ers would have the right of first refusal and receive a second-round draft pick if they choose not to match the offer.
So, Moseley figures to be back in 2021 in a significant role for the 49ers’ defense. He started nine games in the 49ers’ Super Bowl season. Moseley started the 2020 season as the starter, but he missed time early in the season with a concussion. He was sidelined later in the year with a hamstring injury.
Sherman has virtually ruled out his return to the 49ers as an unresticted free agent.
The 49ers will certainly try to re-sign Verrett and nickel back Williams. But the New York Jets, with approximately $77 million in cap space, could make a push to sign either or both of those players.
The 49ers can also re-sign Johnson, who is a low-cost backup player who can step in at a number of different positions in the defensive backfield.
Currently, the 49ers have only four players under contract — and none of whom is assured of winning a spot on the team’s 53-man roster.
Tim Harris, 25, is a seventh-round pick of 2019 who has been plagued by injuries. He appeared in two games last season after being sidelined for his entire rookie season.
The 49ers claimed Ken Webster, 24, off waivers from the Miami Dolphins last season. He started five games for the Dolphins in 2019. Webster appeared in nine games for the 49ers last season, primarily on special teams.
Adonis Alexander, 24, is a 6-foot-3. He played nine games with Washington 2018, but did not appear in a regular-season game the past two seasons.
And Mark Fields III, 24, whom the 49ers claimed off waivers from the Houston Texans this week, has played in five NFL games.