Sakamoto: 49ers’ Draft Will Redmond, Coming Off ACL Injury To Play Nickel Role

USA Today Sports

USA Today Sports

There is no sleeping inside the San Francisco 49ers war room. Just one day after selecting two plug-and-play starters on both sides of the ball, the 49ers found themselves back at it again in the third-round. The 49ers still having plenty of needs across the board, opted to go with a defensive back in the third-round (No. 68) by selecting CB Will Redmond (Mississippi St.).

“You can never have enough cover guys. 67 percent of what we do in this league is nickel and dime,” Baalke said. Many scouts believe Redmond is a fluid cover-corner. A player who can excel in man coverage while displaying the loose hips to sink-and-turn. I asked Baalke what’s the one thing that jumps out at him when he puts on Redmond’s game-film. “Quickness. He’s a quick twitch athlete. He can stick his foot in the ground. He transitions very well and he’s fearless.” 

The last time Baalke drafted a cornerback in the third-round was back in 2011, with the selection of CB Chris Culliver (No. 80). Coincidentally, both players came out of the coveted SEC. But that’s where the similarities stop, as Baalke sees two vastly different players.

“Different guys. Chris was a 6-0 plus corner that played safety in college and also played some cornerback. Similar athletes in some respects but just different type of football players.” Baalke went on to say that Redmond would start off learning the nuances of playing the slot in the team’s 4-2 nickel defense.

“You start with the nickel stuff. He’s a man that can play inside and outside. Will probably start him at inside. We really like his explosive athlete. Guy that can run. Can jump. Play the ball. Physical.”

However, with Redmond coming off a torn right ACL, the question is unclear when he will be ready. Eric Branch of The San Francisco Chronicle asked Baalke if Redmond will be healthy for the start of the 2016 season. “Once again we are very confident in the procedure that was done. Where he’s currently at in his rehab schedule. We’re very confident he will be ready for training camp and ready to go,” Baalke said.

The 49ers have done extensive research on Redmond. They met with the Mississippi State cornerback twice at the NFL scouting combine [one medical re-check] while using one of their top 30 pre-draft visits, to gauge the progress of his injury. “As far as getting medical checks, getting MRI’s and that’s one of the reasons we brought him.”

Redmond becomes the seventh player to be drafted by the 49ers coming off an ACL injury since 2013. The list runs deep beginning with DE Tank Carradine (2013), RB Marcus Lattimore (2013), G Brandon Thomas (2014), FB Trey Millard (2014), CB Keith Reaser (2015), and WR DeAndre Smelter (2015). None have significantly contributed to the 49ers, and neither Lattimore nor Millard ever played a single snap during their short tenure in the NFL.

When asked if Redmond will be ready, Baalke remained optimistic. “He will be healthy. He will be ready to go.”

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.