With the San Francisco 49ers (4-3) getting some much needed healthy bodies back in the fold, it will be the secondary that will benefit the most. A unit that has been hit hard starting with fifth-year veteran CB Tramaine Brock’s (turf toe) injury, the 49ers secondary has been playing musical chairs since. From fourth-year veteran CB Chris Culliver’s concussion and nagging hamstring injuries to CB Chris Cook going on IR with hamstring issues of his own, the 49ers will now get a healthy unit back for the first time since opening day.
Culliver who is scheduled to return to the starting lineup this week while Brock continues to be eased back in the mix should bode well for them. Fangio said at his press conference this afternoon that the plan for Brock was to slowly work his way back against the Denver Broncos. However, due to Culliver being out of action that forced Fangio to play Brock full-time. “He would’ve played, but I don’t think he would’ve played full time,” Fangio said.
Now that Brock, Culliver, and a healthy DB Jimmie Ward are back in the mix, where do the chips fall in terms of the depth chart? While No. 9 ranked player by Pro Football Focus CB Perrish Cox will likely lock down one position, I fully expect Culliver to reclaim the right cornerback spot, while Ward has been labeled the nickel corner by Fangio. “We’ll mix up the corner position and try to get them all action in there, in and out, and it’ll be different combinations,” Fangio said.
How much Brock plays remains to be seen but Fangio did shed some light on his dime packages as he said, “When we play six DBs, they’d be in there, all of them. It looks like Ward will be able to go, so he’ll be the nickel. I think it’ll be different combinations at different times.”
But what will those different packages entail and which personnel will play those packages? I think Brock will be the one who will have to prove himself as he still recovers from his turf toe but we will have to wait and see. With the 49ers preparing for their NFC West rival St. Louis Rams (2-5) it will be interesting to see which personnel Fangio plans to use as he has a healthy unit back in the fold.