The San Francisco 49ers are looking to sign a cornerback in the hope of making a Super Bowl run next summer with new franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo leading the way for the team. They are being linked to several corners, including Los Angeles Rams veteran Trumaine Johnson.
Johnson might become available as a free agent this offseason if the Rams decide to go into a different direction. He played on franchise tag in the past two seasons, but he is expected to be available on the open market unless the Rams decide to cash in on him again for another year.
Vincent Frank of Forbes reported that the Rams are unlikely to pay Johnson $23.6 million on a franchise tag, which will pave the way for other teams interested in acquiring the six-year veteran. And if Los Angeles decides to move on from Johnson, Frank named the 49ers as favorites to acquire the 28-year-old cornerback.
Frank also tagged the Oakland Raiders as one of the likely destinations because Johnson is a Northern California native. However, he quickly concluded that San Francisco is the “more realistic option” for the former Montana standout.
Signing with the Raiders will not lead to a homecoming, as the franchise is set to move to Las Vegas. Money will also be a huge factor because Frank projected that Johnson might ask for a five-year deal worth at least $75 million. The 49ers have a bigger cap room than the Raiders to give into Johnson’s contract demands.
It should be noted, though, that the 49ers are also continuously being linked to New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler. The 27-year-old cornerback is not expected to return to New England after being mysteriously benched during their Super Bowl 52 match against eventual champions Philadelphia Eagles.
Following the controversial benching, several 49ers reached out to Butler, making a recruitment pitch for San Francisco. Safety Jaquiski Tartt told Butler to come to California, while wide receiver Pierre Garcon also asked the star cornerback to move to the Bay Area. Garcon’s Twitter post was retweeted by his 49ers teammates.
If the 49ers decide to pursue Butler, they might also use Garoppolo as their top recruiter. Garoppolo played with Butler for three seasons in New England before the star quarterback was traded to San Francisco. Chandler Wright of Niner Noise predicted that the 49ers will manage to convince the free-agent cornerback to team up with Garoppolo again.