San Francisco 49ers

49ers' best draft fits: Next up, outside cornerback

Colorado defensive back Isaiah Oliver, right, deflects a pass intended for Texas State wide receiver Elijah King in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Oliver has proven to be a standout performer in the Colorado secondary and also happens to be a rising decathlete in track and field.
Colorado defensive back Isaiah Oliver, right, deflects a pass intended for Texas State wide receiver Elijah King in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Oliver has proven to be a standout performer in the Colorado secondary and also happens to be a rising decathlete in track and field.

This item is part of a series on the positions the 49ers will look to fill in the upcoming draft and the players that best fit those spots. They will be published in order of need.

Next up: outside cornerback.

Description: During the 2017 season, only one defensive back under 6-1 -- Asa Jackson, who stands 5-10 -- played outside cornerback for the 49ers. He stepped into that position in Week 4 when Rashard Robinson left the field with an injury. Jackson ended up playing exactly one snap before Robinson returned. The others who played the position last season all had the height and long arms typical of a cornerback in the Seahawks-like, press-coverage defense: Dontae Johnson (6-2), Ahkello Witherspoon (6-2), Robinson (6-1), Greg Mabin (6-1) and Tyvis Powell (6-2). The cornerback San Francisco signed in free agency last month, Richard Sherman, measured 6-2 and 5/8 inches before he was drafted in 2011. All of which makes the blueprint for the position abundantly clear: The 49ers want a long, strong cornerback who can play press coverage and re-route receivers to the boundaries.

Who's there now: Witherspoon and Sherman are penciled in as the starters for 2018. Witherspoon seemed to get stronger and more confident with every start last season, and the 49ers love the dynamic between him and the confident but equally cerebral Sherman. The veteran, however, is coming back from a ruptured Achilles tendon, and at age 30, there's a risk that he doesn't regain his previous Pro Bowl form. Beyond that duo, the position is fuzzy. Jimmie Ward (5-10 5/8 inches) will spend some time there during OTAs and other spring drills, Kyle Shanahan said. The team also has unproven Mabin, Channing Stribling and Trovon Reed.

Best fits:

* Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama. He has good -- not great -- size for the position in San Francisco's scheme and mostly played two other spots -- nickel cornerback and free safety -- when he was at Alabama. He is paying a pre-draft visit to the 49ers.

* Denzel Ward, Ohio State. He's regarded as the best pure cornerback in the draft, but at slightly under 5-11 and weighing 183 pounds, does he fit San Francisco's size parameters? He also visited Santa Clara in the run-up to the draft.

* Isaiah Oliver, Colorado. He played with Witherspoon at Colorado and has a similar height-agility combination as Witherspoon. He also has nearly 34-inch arms, which is extremely long -- and coveted -- at the position. The problem is that he's unlikely to be available when the 49ers pick in the second round. The 49ers recently conducted a workout with Oliver in Colorado.

* Josh Jackson, Iowa. He's not nearly as smooth as Ward or Oliver but has excellent ball skills. Jackson led the nation in interceptions last season.

* Carlton Davis, Auburn. Davis also isn't as fluid as the others, but he's big, physical and was excellent and disruptive in press coverage at Auburn. He might be a good candidate to learn under Sherman.

* Holton Hill, Texas. At nearly 6-2 and 200 pounds, Hill fits the profile for a 49ers cornerback, and he ran his 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds.

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