After stirring controversy with homophobic remarks on Super Bowl weekend, and posting derogatory comments on Instagram several days ago, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
But in the months leading up to training camp, the 24-year-old cornerback must keep quiet and just let his play do the talking.
Even though Culliver played well for most of 2012, he had a postseason to forget.
According to Pro Football Focus, Culliver gave up 272 passing yards in the playoffs. Perhaps his greatest blunder came when he surrendered a game-changing, 56-yard touchdown reception to Jacoby Jones in the Super Bowl. But looking at Culliver’s overall performance last season, he was very effective as the team’s No. 3 corner, posing as one of the bright spots on defense.
However, given his poor performance in the postseason along with the addition of Nnamdi Asomugha, Culliver needs to distinguish himself on the football field. He must show his coaches that he is a closer representation of his regular-season form than whom he portrayed in their Super Bowl run.
But Asomugha’s play will be a key factor in determining Culliver’s role for 2013. If Asomugha approaches his All-Pro form, Culliver’s snaps will be limited. But if the former Philadelphia Eagle remains a liability, Culliver should remain a vital piece in their pass defense.
Another element that could affect his snap count is the possibility of the 49ers adding another corner or two in this week’s NFL draft. With 13 picks to work with, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team select multiple defensive backs. Depending on how many the 49ers acquire, the position could be crowded, as San Francisco retained all of their corners (Culliver, Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Perrish Cox and Tramaine Brock) from last season as well.
This offseason period is crucial for Culliver in determining his future with the 49ers. Unless he improves himself both on and off the field, general manager Trent Baalke could show him the door.