While the injury sustained by wide receiver Michael Crabtree during minicamp last offseason was the San Francisco 49ers injury everyone focused on and analyzed, another contributor went down during training camp with a season-ending injury. Cornerback Chris Culliver saw his 2013 season end right before it even got started as he tore his ACL during training camp.
Fast forward to this offseason, and Culliver’s name was mentioned once again. During a breakout interview with Bay Area media at the NFL Combine, general manager Trent Baalke was asked a series of questions with one of those was related to Culliver. As reported by several outlets, Baalke was asked if the team would entertain the possibility of moving Culliver from corner to play as a safety in 2014.
Baalke dismissed the likelihood of such a switch as he emphasized that they had no plans of converting Culliver to safety. Baalke said before his injury the organization was happy with the progress he was making playing the corner position. Even though Baalke put water to the notion of Culliver playing safety, the question itself is not all that unreasonable. Back in college, Culliver played the safety position so it’s not like he has no experience at there.
That said, there is no reason for the 49ers to entertain the possibility of having Culliver moving to play safety at the moment. For starters, this assumes that Donte Whitner will leave the team as a free agent. While this is a distinct possibility, the 49ers have the likes of C.J. Spillman and Craig Dahl at safety to battle it out for a starting role alongside Eric Reid. There is no immediate need to panic and have Culliver switch positions barring something unforeseen.
Aside from there already being players who can take over should Whinter leave, the 49ers will need to keep Culliver around given that two current cornerbacks might be leaving as well. Given his high cap number for the 2014 season, Carlos Rogers looks all but certain to be cut at some point this offseason while Tarrell Brown is a free agent and looks set to test his value on the market.
Given that the 49ers can have up to two departing cornerbacks, it makes sense to keep Culliver around playing as a cornerback even if he is coming off an ACL injury. Circumstances later on during the offseason and even into training camp can change, but there is no need or logic behind moving Culliver over from his cornerback position.