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Chris Culliver somehow emerges as a top potential free-agent cornerback


Before, during, and after 21 coach and G.M. interviews at the Scouting Combine for PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and Pro Football Talk on NBCSN, it’s easy to pick up a few tidbits about a few things.

Here’s a tidbit many may see as a surprise: There could be a very significant market for 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver.

A third-round pick in 2011, Culliver perhaps made the biggest headline of his career when talking about homosexual players prior to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. He also made an even more unfortunate headline during the 2014 offseason, following an auto accident with a bicycle and the alleged use of brass knuckles to threaten a 15-year-old witness who tried to keep Culliver leaving the scene. Culliver has since been sued for the behavior. (In between those two events was an Instagram misadventure that resulted in the 49ers handling the situation internally.)

Culliver started 14 regular-season games in 2014, snaring four interceptions and 14 passes defensed. He missed all of the 2013 season with a torn ACL.

Culliver has landed at No. 45 on the PFT Free Agent Hot 100, but the chatter suggests maybe he should be higher. Given the obsession over off-field issues that threatens to damage the draft stock of incoming rookies, it’s hard to imagine Culliver cashing in as a free agent. But with the ongoing proliferation of the passing game, guys who can cover pass catchers will continue to be at a premium, with or without the brass knuckles.

Somehow, Culliver has escaped the NFL’s newfound affinity for paid leave when players are merely accused of violent crime. Any team that signs Culliver needs to be confident not only that they won’t end up paying Culliver to not play until his pending legal charges are resolved, but also that Culliver won’t be suspended without pay, eventually.