The arrival of cornerback Carlos Rogers (via free agency) prior to the 2011 season gave the San Francisco 49ers an immediate and sizable boost to a secondary in desperate need of a jump start. The veteran defensive back hauled in a career-high six interceptions during his first year donning the Red and Gold and was not only named to his first ever Pro Bowl, but became a second-team All-Pro selection as well.
After making good on his initial one-year contract, Rogers’ stellar play spurred the Niners’ brass to lock him down for four years at a relatively steep price of $29 million overall. The 31-year-old responded with what most would consider an above average campaign at best. Hardly what you’d expect from a former Pro Bowl DB set to earn over $7 million each of the final three years of his contract.
Barring an unlikely deal for an NFL-ready shutdown corner (Darrelle Revis is the popular name being thrown around), it would be unwise for the 49ers to release Rogers this off-season, though the idea has been pondered by some. Rogers is versatile in the secondary and typically handles the slot receiver when the 49ers run into teams using three or even four-WR sets.
The Niners have two solid long-term corners in Tarrell Brown and Chris Culliver, but sending Rogers out the door would leave the team with only two proven players at the position—not an option in today’s NFL. And, though his future in the league is still rather bright, Cully had some struggles of his own during the Niners’ recent run to the Super Bowl.
That said, you can bet 2013 will be Rogers’ last year in San Fran if his future performance is more of what we saw in 2012 and less of what we saw in 2011. Which is why it’s probably in the team’s best interest to find a future replacement in the early rounds of this year’s draft in the event that he doesn’t bounce back this season. And, if he does (which we all hope is to be the case), the 49ers could use the depth in the secondary anyway.