Coming out of training camp, the cornerback depth chart for the San Francisco 49ers played out in much the way many of those who cover the team expected it to play out. Despite some talk of potentially being released by the 49ers because of his salary cap number, Carlos Rogers showed why he was the team’s no. 1 cornerback while Tarrell Brown showed he was worthy of being the other starter.
The main battle was over who would be the third cornerback, and it was contested by Chris Culliver, free agent signing Nnamdi Asomugha and Tramaine Brock. Culliver would not factor into the battle as he tore his ACL early in training camp, and the 49ers signed Eric Wright as an option after the original trade for him was voided. In the end, Asomugha ended up winning the battle of the 49ers no. 3 cornerback.
Through the first three games of the season, Asomugha looked like the cornerback he was with the Philadelphia Eagles as opposed to the player who was considered one of the best when he was with the Oakland Raiders. He struggled, missed on several tackles, got beat on a regular basis and committed several drive-extending errors.
It was clear he was probably not the player to occupy the third cornerback position, and a knee injury has seen him miss the last two 49ers games.
As a result of Asomugha being inactive, Brock has stepped in and filled in as the 49ers’ third cornerback, better referred to as the nickle cornerback. In the 49ers’ Week 4 win against the St. Louis Rams, Brock had a solid game with three tackles but just as importantly, he showed the ability to cover the Rams’ third wide receiver and also not commit any unnecessary penalties which could extend drives.
In the 49ers’ Week 5 win over the Houston Texans, Brock had a game to remember.
He recorded two interceptions, with the first one being a pick-six which he returned for 18 yards and in the process put Matt Schaub into the record books for a unflattering record. In addition to showing good ball-hawking skills, Brock once again proved and showed that he is capable to holding his own against the opposition’s no. 3 wide receiver and once again.
Headed into the 49ers’ Week 6 game against NFC West division foe Arizona Cardinals, it is clear that even if Asomugha is healthy enough to play, Brock has clearly established himself as the 49ers’ third cornerback. He is the much more reliable, competent and confident player at that position — the interceptions against the Texans only served as the cherry on top.