San Francisco 49ers’ cornerback Rashard Robinson is just scratching the surface with his natural abilities, skill set, and overall potential. We’ll tell you why he’ll challenge for the starting position in 2017.
Rashard Robinson was the wild card draft pick of the 49ers’ 2016 draft class. He was out of football for over a year after being kicked off the LSU Tigers team for multiple team rule violations. That fourth round gamble paid off as Robinson was one of the bright spots of the 49ers’ porous 2016 season. In his rookie campaign, he played in 14 games with six starts. He recorded 25 tackles, eight passes defended, and one interception.
What was being said when Robinson was drafted:
Robinson has just eight career starts under his belt, but that tells you what the 49ers think about his upside. Robinson is a long, press corner leaking with talent. If he stayed clean off the field, he’s likely a top 40 pick. There are plenty of question marks, but he’s an early candidate for steal of the draft. –Mark Dulgerian
The 49ers knew they had a great athlete with natural man-to-man covering skills on their hands: 6’1” and 177lbs, 4.43-second 40-yard dash, 35.5 inch vertical, and 121-inch broad jump, via NFL.com. The question, though, was would he mature and take full advantage of maybe his last opportunity to prove he can be an accountable football player? During offseason interviews, he vowed to prove that he was a changed man. His performance on and off the field last season was a big step in that direction.
During the course of the season, Robinson showed fans flashes of why he should be considered a core building block of the future. Down the stretch, he improved his game overall and at times looked like the 49ers’ best corner on the field, especially after Jimmie Ward went down late in the season due to injury.
Will Robinson challenge for a starting position in 2017? All signs point to him doing so, and one can only expect so, especially with the new addition of General Manager John Lynch who could act as a great mentor for Robinson in year two, therefore honing and maximizing his talents and skill level.
Speaking of skill level/talent, his long arms help him jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, has fluid hips, plays the ball aggressively in the air, and displays the fight/determination to be the best on every play/snap. Robinson had some untimely penalties and mental lapses, but for a rookie and someone who hadn’t played for an extended period of time, he showed glimpses of being a shutdown corner.
His lone interception of the season not only secured one of the two wins of the seasons but more importantly, it demonstrated his tremendous upside. On the play, he diagnosed the receiver’s route then beat his man to the spot quarterback Jarred Goff was throwing to and caught the ball like he was the intended receiver. The boy has some “skillz.”
In closing: With an improved defensive scheme and the experience he gained playing this past 2016 season, his 2017 campaign should be one of great anticipation and promise. Robinson has Pro Bowl skill sets and potential. This offseason, he must add weight and gain strength. He should also work on his overall defensive game by improving his technique, film study, and tackling versus the run. And if he does everything as aforementioned? He’ll be poised to start in 2017. He will enter the offseason competing with Tramaine Brock, Jimmie Ward, Keith Reaser, and possible offseason additions via the draft and free agency.
Look for #33 to be a playmaker for the Red & Gold in 2017.
On a Niners Live side note: Why the 49ers Chose John Lynch as GM and What He Brings to the Table. Like always: keep your eyes wide open, 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated but never duplicated… Go Niners.
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author Jimi Payne Staff Writer at Niners live. Co-Author, Editor Niners Live.