Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Shook sees CB Mike Hilton as an ‘excellent fit’ for the 49ers defense

Mar 3, 2021 at 11:40 AM--

Around The NFL writer Nick Shook examined the upcoming free agency landscape and played matchmaker between players and teams. In his latest feature for, he picked "one fun free agency fit" for each NFC team. The San Francisco 49ers could see several defensive backs depart, including Richard Sherman, Jason Verrett, K'Waun Williams, and Ahkello Witherspoon.

The potential losses at cornerback led Shook to pick Mike Hilton of the Pittsburgh Steelers for John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan's defense.

"The 49ers are going to say goodbye to Richard Sherman and likely Jason Verrett, and they also need to get younger at the position," explained Shook. "A favorite of mine for the last couple of seasons because of his flair for being in the right place at the right time, Hilton would be an excellent fit in the 49ers' defense. With around $12.5 million in cap space, San Francisco has the funds to make this happen and shore up its secondary in the process."

San Francisco may have the funds to add a player like Hilton, but the team also has other needs to address. Left tackle Trent Williams, whom the team traded for last offseason, is scheduled to hit the open market. The 49ers would like to keep him around for the foreseeable future. However, Williams is expected to be in high demand. Shook's colleague, Gregg Rosenthal, recently stated that he expects the eight-time Pro Bowl selection to become the highest-paid player in free agency and possibly the highest-paid tackle in the NFL.

As for Hilton, the Jacksonville Jaguars signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss in 2016. He wasn't able to stick with the team beyond its final roster cuts and, after a few days on the New England Patriots practice squad, signed with the Steelers.

Hilton, 26, registered 51 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, three sacks, seven passes defensed, three interceptions, and a forced fumble through 12 games with the Steelers in 2020, per Pro Football Reference. He has recorded 237 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 32 passes defensed, seven interceptions, and three forced fumbles through his four NFL seasons.

Shook sees the Philadelphia Eagles as a good free agency destination for one 49ers cornerback about to hit the open market — K'Waun Williams.

"The Eagles have essentially little to no money to spend, but they do need to fill the nickel role in their defense," wrote Shook. "Williams feels like a good fit because of his mix of age and deflated value due to a considerable injury history, and he could probably be had for an affordable amount."

The writer feels former 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Washinton Football Team quarterback Alex Smith might be a solid match for the Chicago Bears.

"Should he be able to stay healthy for a full season, this might end up being the next chapter in Smith's incredible comeback tale -- and could help vault the Bears from a seventh seed to something greater," commented Shook.

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