Positional Analysis Cornerbacks
January 26 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
One of the brightest moves the 49ers made in the 2000 season was letting rookies Ahmed Plummer and Jason Webster start most of the games and see more repetitions then any defensive back on the field. With the luxury of being in a rebuilding mode, the 49ers were able to send these to youngsters out to face some of the toughest receivers in the NFL. Their job was to play hard and learn from their mistakes. Both seem to have done exactly that, proving beyond a doubt in 2001 that they were the future of the 49ers defensive backfield.
Ahmed Plummer had one of the best seasonís a 49ers cornerback has ever had this past season. Recording an incredible seven interceptions (tied for the team lead with Zack Bronson), Plummer found his way on to the alternate Pro Bowl list in only his second year. But perhaps the most impressing thing about his 2001 season, is despite being aggressive, and showing the ability to shut down receivers, Plummer did not record a single pass interference call. To be honest, Iím not sure if any starting cornerback in the NFL can boast that type of statistic. Plummer is a great talent, and his maturation in one season was a big part to the defensive success of the team.
Jason Webster who started opposite Plummer all season, got the reputation of being Ďthe other cornerbackí. Webster however proved time and time again that he is a more than able body to hold that position. Webster made one great error all season, and that was on a long pass against Green Bay in the play offs. An additional season will undoubtedly help Webster take that next step in his game. Still, the 49ers may look to bring in one more cornerback in the image of Plummer and Webster, to push Webster for the starting position, and to make sure the 49ers have three very good defensive backs to match up against teams like the Rams.
Anthony Parker began the season in a way that had every 49ers fan, player and staff member hopefully. Healthy for the first time in a long time, Parker seemed to be on top oh his game, and finally emerging into the player the 49ers thought he could be. But when he suffered a season ending injury, he may have effectively ended his tenure with the 49ers. Parker is on the expansion list and is thus eligible to be picked up by the Texans.
Rashad Holman, a rookie this past season stepped in big time when Parker went down. Sure Holman did not make the flashy plays, and made his share of mistakes in nickel and dime packages, but he was a rookie, and with a season under his belt with lots of play time, he could emerge into a very good third cornerback. The switch between Parker and Holman showed very little drop off, so it is reasonable to assume that Holman, with an extra season behind him could make some big strides in the defense.
Tyronne Drakeforde was re-signed late in the 49ers season in order to shore up some of the injuries the 49ers had at the cornerback position. Drakeforde, a former 49ers, stepped in relatively seamlessly and did not make any glaring errors while on the field. An unrestricted free agent this off-season, Drakeforde could see himself fighting for a spot on the 49ers roster.
Considered the weakest point of the defense heading into the season, the cornerbacks proved just how much they had learned the previous year. This off-season the 49ers will be looking to improve their defense in a manner that can rival the Rams. That likely means they will be looking for a defensive back that can really push Webster for the starting position. That player could be a veteran, a draftee or even someone currently on the roster, but itís a sure thing the 49ers will be looking to further improve this area.