Chris Culliver: 6th round CB, 3rd round FS

Apr 29, 2011 at 7:39 PM

The 49ers draft thus far has been...interesting. The team has seemingly drafted three developmental prospects with their first three picks. The last pick for the 49ers this evening, Chris Culliver, seemed like another "facepalm" moment. has Culliver listed as a CB, but that may not be the position he plays in the NFL.

NFP has Culliver rated as the second-ranked free safety in the draft. They rated him at a 6.4 D M which means that the player has the potential to be a starter, despite one deficient area. (Interestingly enough, the D and M ratings indicate he has no weakness in any critical factors and lacks football intelligence). says the following:
Culliver's a mid-round talent with higher upside. The 49ers add an intriguing talent to their secondary with the selection of Culliver. He has a good combination of size, speed and ball skills, and will push for time in their nickel packages.

Perhaps Sonoco NinerFan said it best on our forums:
Culliver was ranked as high as 76-80 by Wes Bunting and [The Webzone's Own] MadDog and 102 by NFLDraftScout (Rang). Mayock says sixth rounder and suddenly it's gospel?

Basically it's another case of "we won't know until we know."

The addition of Culliver, though, probably indicates the 49ers are not high on their current crop of safeties. Mays was a bit of a disappointment his rookie year. Even the coaching staff that drafted him benched him in favor of other options. With Goldson, Mays, Reggie Smith (seriously, what's with all the Smiths?) and Taylor the 49ers starting safeties could look different in Vic Fangio's 3-4 scheme.

After Culliver's conference call it looks like the 49ers are projecting him at CB. What was interesting was that he said the team wouldn't let him fail. He would try CB and if that didn't work he would default to safety.

Either way, it looks like Baalke has plenty of faith in the coaching staff's abilities.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Frank
    Oscar, In past years, in the Nolan and Singletary eras, I might agree with you. But, Harbaugh hired Ed Donatell, one of the top DB coaches in the NFL. This man is head and shoulders above any DB coaches in the past 10 years of Niner football. Culliver's an outstanding athlete...good size, strong, fast, he simply needs to learn to be an NFL CB. He couldn't be in better hands...maybe someday he will be a S, but for now, they want him at CB. Before you and most of the other Bay Area sportswriters diss Culliver or any of the other picks, you'd do well to see what they can actually do on the football field, under some top-line coaching. Seeing is believing, and I think you owe it to these players and the coaches who selected them to give them a legitimate chance before knocking them.
    May 4, 2011 at 8:00 PM
    Response: Frank - I agree with you that we need to give these players a chance on the field. I, for one, hope Culliver emerges as a steal in the draft. Hell, I hope everyone the 49ers drafted emerge as steals.
  • Patrick (PTulini)
    I was left scratching my head at this pick. I would think that in the first 3 rounds GM Trent Baalke would be looking for a starter, or an impact player. I understand things like potential and upside, but that only goes so far these days. I think they could have gotten Culliver in the 4th or 5th round and none of us would have thought twice about it! I'm beginning to wonder if Baalke has too much faith in this coaching staff? This draft class appears to have a ton of upside. I just hope it all works out!
    May 1, 2011 at 7:27 AM

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