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Size matters for 49ers at cornerback

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AP

Size matters for 49ers at cornerback

With the start of the free agency just a couple of weeks ago, here is one man's opinion of the 49ers' top offseason needs:

1. Cornerback
2. Guard
3. Edge rusher
4. Wide receiver
5. Inside linebacker

Here are some other questions for the latest edition of 49ers Mailbag submitted via Facebook:

What corners are the 49ers likely to be looking at in free agency/draft? (Stépheñ Bůrkę)
There are few things of which I am certain when it comes to NFL free agency and the draft, but here is one of them:

If there’s a cornerback available, the 49ers will do their homework and consider the possibility of pursuing him to add to their roster.

Ahkello Witherspoon showed during his rookie season the ability to be a starter-caliber NFL cornerback. Nobody else on their roster, including free-agent-to-be Dontae Johnson, proved capable of being a starter on a team with playoff aspirations.

The 49ers have already done their homework on free agent Vontae Davis, who visited Santa Clara this week, and Marcus Peters, whom the 49ers chose not to pursue from the Kansas City Chiefs with a trade offer.

The personnel department will looking into the entire upcoming free-agent class, including Trumaine Johnson, Aaron Colvin and Kyle Fuller.

As for who might be available in the draft, Iowa’s Josh Jackson and Ohio State’s Denzel Ward appear to be the only candidates who the club would consider with their first-round draft pick. Jackson could have the edge on the 49ers’ draft board due to his size advantage. The 49ers, like the other teams that run their Seattle-influenced defensive scheme, place emphasis on tall corners on the outside.

After their first pick, the 49ers could look to Colorado, again, with 6-foot-1 Isaiah Oliver. Kameron Kelly (6-2) of San Diego State could be a player the 49ers would consider on the second or third down with the idea of moving him back to cornerback.

It seems after the Eagles won the Super Bowl a good back up QB is important. What do you think the Niners will do at backup QB? (Philip Malan)
My first thought is that the 49ers feel pretty good about their quarterback situation. C.J. Beathard definitely has a lot of what Kyle Shanahan wants from a player at that position.

Beathard showed some good things in his time as a rookie, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Obviously, the 49ers will bring in one or two other quarterbacks. More than likely, there could be a journeyman-type and an undrafted rookie. Although I would not rule out a player from the outside beating out Beathard for the No. 2 spot, I’d be surprised if the top two QBs on the 49ers’ roster at the start of the 2018 season are not Jimmy Garoppolo and C.J. Beathard.

Who do you see taking the lead role at RB if Hyde isn't signed? (Ben Gomez)
I don’t think the 49ers necessarily want a so-called “workhorse” at running back. Shanahan would likely prefer to employ multiple backs for different roles.

That said, the 49ers have certainly not given up on re-signing Carlos Hyde. If the price is right, there are plenty of scenarios in which he returns to the organization in 2018.

Joe Williams demonstrated the skillset at Utah that would easily make him the team’s premier back. But the game appeared too big for him last summer during training camp before he was shipped to injured reserve with a relatively minor injury. If Williams returns in April for the offseason program ready to play, he and Matt Breida could easily be the 49ers’ top two backs.

But, certainly, the 49ers are in no position to depend on Williams. It seems unrealistic the 49ers would spend big money on a free agent. They can be expected to add a veteran or two, but nobody who would come in as the no-questions-asked starter. (Remember, a year ago, the 49ers added Tim Hightower and Kapri Bibbs, and neither made the regular-season roster.)

There will certainly be plenty of low-cost, dynamic options available in the draft – as there is every year.

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