Most close team observers seem to agree that Niners second-year CB Chris Culliver is on a fast track for a starting role in 2013.
“Culliver’s getting better and better each and every week,” Niners FS Donte Whitner said after his DB mate’s sterling performance vs. Miami in Week 14 (three passes defensed). “He’s playing like a top corner in the National Football League. He’s a big guy. He’s 6 foot plus, almost 200 pounds. He wants to be physical. He is really starting to study and become a student of the game.”
But if Culliver is indeed closing in on a starting CB role, would he replace Carlos Rogers on the left corner or Tarell Brown on the right corner?
“That’s a good question,” said one team insider. “It’s a real competitive situation at cornerback, and the team has been surprisingly good against the pass. I’d say it would probably be Tarell, considering what they’re paying Rogers, who has been solid, even though he hasn’t been making as many big plays this season.”
Culliver, meanwhile, has stood out with highlight-reel efforts on more than a few occasions.
“He’s so good down field,” the insider said. "He gets isolated in the nickel a lot, and comes through most of the time. He’s been really good on third-down plays. He’s got great technique and you can just see how much he loves the game. He plays with a real edge.”
Added star ILB Patrick Willis: “Yeah, he’s a heck of a player. I know right now he comes in in our sub-package, but anytime he’s on the field, I think he’s going to make a big play or have a big pass breakup or something.”