New 49ers defensive coordinator Eric Mangini continues to stress that his unit will be flexible in 2015.
He talked about it recently in relation to the Niners’ defensive line, and how different players will line up in various positions, dictated by situation and strength. Now he’s also talked about being flexible with his cornerbacks.
As noted recently by Matt Barrows, who covers the 49ers for the Sacramento Bee, young cornerback Keith Reaser played a number of positions in the recent full-squad minicamp, rotating from the left side to the right side to the slot in the nickel.
Another young cornerback, Keith Acker, told Barrows that has been the message from Mangini: that versatility will be the norm.
“You’re not gong to play in the same position, not play the same side,” Acker said, explaining that, “We’ve got a lot of different guys that can do a lot of different things. And coach sees that. He’s feeling us out, just like we’re feeling the positions out.”
Barrows wrote that Tramaine Brock, the team’s No. 1 corner, could be assigned a team’s best receiver, no matter where he lines up, left, right or in the slot. A big receiver such as 6-foot-7 Seattle tight end could be assigned to 6-foot-2 corner Dontae Johnson or rookie Jaquiski Tartt, a safety/corner hybrid (like Jimmie Ward) who is stronger. A smaller, quicker slot receiver might get a smaller, quicker defender.
Mangini said earlier this offseason that he’s spending a lot of time and energy learning the strengths and weaknesses of every player on defense. That would include cornerback, where the competition includes Brock, Reaser, Acker, Johnson, Shareece Wright, Chris Cook, Marcus Cromartie, Leon McFadden, Ward and Tartt.
“Every player is different,” Mangini told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. “You can’t just try to have a cookie-cutter approach. You’ve got to give them things that help them specific to their learning style. You have to find the best way to allow them to be successful and put them in position to be successful.”