The 49ers today tendered cornerback Tramaine Brock with a $540,000 exclusive rights contract, according to Brock's agent Ron Slavin. Brock began the 2011 season as the 49ers' No. 3 cornerback, and he came up with interceptions in the first two games of the season. But he broke his hand in the Week 2 game against Dallas and missed three weeks. That time off allowed rookie Chris Culliver to slide into the No. 3 job, which he held for the rest of the season.
Brock is interesting. He was undrafted out of Belhaven University in 2010 but made the 53-man roster that year instead of fullback Michael Robinson, a controversial move at the time. Now he could have a big role in a defense that will face the likes of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, Drew Brees and the Saints, Eli Manning and the Giants and Matthew Stafford and the Lions (and Peyton Manning and the Cardinals??) in 2012.
As of now, it appears as if cornerback Carlos Rogers will hit the open market on Tuesday. He could be back if he doesn't get the offer he wants, but the 49ers are prepared to move on without him if he does find the right suitor. Under that scenario, they likely will look for an inexpensive veteran and/or draft a cornerback in April. Without Rogers, Culliver would be penciled in as the starter opposite Tarell Brown while Brock would be penciled in, initially at least, as the No. 3 corner.
Last year, Culliver played 41 percent of the 49ers' defensive snaps. The No. 3 cornerback promises to play at least that amount in 2012.
-- Matt Barrows