Eli Apple isn't worth 49ers' time despite injury-riddled secondary

Josh Schrock
·2 min read

Recently-cut Apple wouldn't bring anything of value to 49ers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 49ers have spent their whole season trying to patch up a depleted secondary.

Jason Verrett has been a revelation. Brian Allen, now released, was barbecued chicken. Ahkello Witherspoon and Dontae Johnson have played sparingly, but have been unspectacular. Emmanuel Mosely recently returned from injury and was stellar Sunday against the New England Patriots, allowing one catch for 12 yards.

The 49ers still are awaiting the return of Richard Sherman and slot corner K'Waun Williams, and with their defensive backs dropping like flies every week, they could always use quality depth.

So, naturally, when the Carolina Panthers released Eli Apple on Tuesday many wondered if the Ohio State product could be headed to the Bay. There's a weird fascination with former first-round picks like Apple, who was taken 10th overall by the New York Giants in 2016. Just because one team took a gamble on a player early in the draft and it didn't work out doesn't mean that player automatically has desirable talent but was just in the wrong situation.

Apple has talent, you can't deny that. But it hasn't equated to NFL success. Coming into this season, Apple has allowed 13.2 yards per reception and a 60.7 percent completion rate when targeted in his four-year career. He only notched three career interceptions and 33 passes defensed.

Apple, who has battled a hamstring problem all season, was active for the second time Sunday when the Panthers played the New Orleans Saints. He played 28 snaps and recorded four tackles in the loss.

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So we have a young, athletic corner who was taken in the first-round, has minimal quality NFL productivity and has missed most of the season with a hamstring injury.

Should the 49ers look to bring in some cornerback help that won't get shishkabobbed as Allen did against the Miami Dolphins? Yes.

But Apple doesn't present anything more than an athletic frame and wasted talent. The 49ers can find someone else who can at least get on the field should Verrett or Moseley go down. Apple isn't it.

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