Having a Pro-Bowl caliber to an elite level cornerback has eluded the 49ers for several years since the likes of Hall of Famer Deion Sanders (1994-elite Pro-Bowler and All-Pro with six interceptions), Eric Davis (1995-Pro-Bowler and All-Pro with three interceptions), Walt Harris (2006-Pro-Bowler with eight interceptions) and Carlos Rogers (2011-Pro-Bowler with six interceptions).
And if you want to take it back a step further, you'll have to go to the 1980's with Eric Wright and Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, who made the Pro-Bowl and All-Pro at every position in the secondary.
Five reasons why the 49ers should strongly consider Five-time Pro Bowl CB Aqib Talib
1). Accolades and Achievements - Talib is a (consecutive) five-time Pro-Bowler, first-team All-Pro in 2016 and a Super Bowl champion (instant credibility). Box check here.
2). The Production lives up to the contract - Talib still has two years left on the six-year, $57 million deal he signed back in 2014, and he is due to make $11 million in 2018 and $8 million in 2019. It was also reported that some executives would steer clear of giving up draft capital for Talib's services.
Important to note: Talib has an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 86.2, an 86.2 coverage grade, and a run defense grade of 78.8. These numbers rank him as the 15th best player at his position.
At a soon to be 32 years young, Talib still isn't slowing down. In his 11 seasons, Talib has played in 135 games, starting 121 of those contests, amassing 34 interceptions, which he returned 10 for touchdowns, 117 passes defended, four forced fumbles, and accounted for 362 total tackles. Talib helped boast a Broncos secondary that finished in the top five in the league, giving up just over 200 passing yards a game in 2017. Box check here.
3). He fits a glaring need - the 49ers have been desperate for a difference maker for years (as seen above). In 2017, the 49ers ranked 22nd in pass defense, gave up 3,764 passing yards, 27 passing touchdowns, surrendered a 63.2% completion rate to opposing quarterbacks, and the defense only recorded 10 interceptions (Ahkello Witherspoon and Eric Reid tied with two each). Box check here.
4). He's outspoken with a "Dawg" Mentality - Yes, Talib is a no-nonsense and hard nose type of player that's been known to snatch diva wide receiver's chains (see Michael Crabtree) off their necks when they match up against him and try to challenge him. So he likes to intimidate and get in the heads of the opposing team's No.1 wide receiver, and he plays with an edge. Hmmm, you don't say.... Much like division foe, cornerback Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks (who's had a run in with Crabtree as well, as seen in the video). Box check here.
Hold on for a second. Didn't Sanders do something similar when he went at former Atlanta Falcon and ex-teammate wide receiver Andre Rison (as seen in the video)? Both were flagged on the play. Back then, that was called competitive greatness. Now, imagine that...
By the way, the 49ers won the Super Bowl that year (1994) too.
5). Draft flexibility - Adding a player like Talib allows the 49ers to address other pressing needs potentially in the first round, like pass-rusher or offensive line. The 49ers could look again to add a cornerback or two by the third or fourth rounds (see Witherspoon) and allow the draftee or draftees to be mentored by Talib, who I believe has two or three more years left playing at a high level.
Allow me to gift you this
Deion Sanders has 53 career interceptions in 14 years, Ronnie Lott has 63 interceptions in 14 years, and Talib has 34 in 11 years. Sanders has nine career interceptions returned for touchdowns and Lott has five. Talib beats out both Hall of Famers with 10 on his resume.
So what am I trying to say, Todd? The 49ers have a possible chance to add a future Hall of Famer (via trade or in free agency) that's still playing at an elite level and is extremely productive with Talib's potential release.
Consider this; Talib, in consecutive years over the last four years, has returned at least one interception for a touchdown (six pick-sixes in the last four years).
Talib has the athletic ability, skill set, and ball skills to turn defense into offensive points. Over the last four years, Talib has accounted for 36 points. Let's take it a step further, shall, we? How many close games did the 49ers lose in 2017? Five, by three points or less. I'll let you fill in the blanks from here… Are your eyes wide open?
In the end, it would behoove the 49ers to strongly consider adding Talib to this young and inexperienced secondary and defense overall. With a projected $114 million in cap space, Talib's contract could be absorbed, or he can be obtained through free agency, assuming he's released by the Broncos.
Recent article alerts on Niners Live: The Top Three Edge-Rushers the 49ers Should Target and Top Three Cornerbacks the 49ers should target.
It's in the 49ers' best interests to target Talib, and I'm not alone in thinking this. NFL writer Benjamin Allbright echoed those same sentiments in his own words. "Wouldn't be surprised to see [the San Francisco 49ers] go after Talib. They have the assets, the need, and the cap space."
Are you not entertained? Like always, to be continued...
Sequoia Sims: Founder of Niners Live, Content Creator, player breakdown specialist, and Senior Author. The home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, and different perspective, of course.