49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

July 24, 2013
Want to play CB for the 49ers? Only 6-footers need apply

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Marcus Cooper started only one game at Rutgers last year and he has only four interceptions in five seasons at the school. So why did the 49ers use the last of their 11 draft picks in April on him?

"Hopefully it's my size, my physicality at the corner," Cooper said. "I'm just going to bring that every day, and hopefully it's something that (coaches) want to see."

Indeed, when Cooper was brought out of the locker room on Tuesday, I thought he was linebacker Nicky Moody. At 6-2, 192, Cooper is bigger than what has long been the traditional mold for cornerbacks, and he fits a pattern for the 49ers. They've pursued big bodies at the position in recent years, including Sean Smith - he ultimately signed with the Chiefs - and Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency this year.

"He's the only guy I have to look up to," Cooper quipped when asked about Asomugha, who is listed at 6-2, 210 pounds.

Meanwhile, there have been no talks about a contract extension with starting cornerback Tarell Bown, who is one of several 49ers cornerbacks playing in the final year of his contract. Brown has rounded into an excellent cover cornerback. But at 5-10, 190 pounds, he does not seem to fit the profile for what the 49ers are looking for in the future. He also could be pricey to re-sign.

Perhaps the 49ers are emulating the NFC-rival Seahawks, who have filled defensive backfield with big, powerful cornerbacks - and a hard-hitting strong safety - who jam, grab and otherwise disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage.

The only 49ers cornerbacks under contract for next season - Chris Culliver, Carlos Rogers and Cooper - all are 6-0 or taller. Another big-bodied player, Perrish Cox, will be a restricted free agent. The 49ers already play a significant amount of press coverage. Will that increase in the future?

During the draft, general manager Trent Baalke was asked how the 49ers will address the proliferation of speedy slot receivers such as Percy Harvin and Tavon Austin in the division. "... It takes scheme sometimes to take care of different schemes that other people are throwing at you," Baalke said. "No different than it does when they're playing against us and our personnel. This is a matchup league. It's a personnel matchup league. And you either do it with personnel, or you do it with scheme. Those are the two ways you take care of it."

- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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