With the news that the 49ers have confirmed the signing of Perrish Cox to a two-year deal comes ... well, not a whole lot of clarity. With Carlos Rogers not having a deal in place and the free agency period set to start in just under two hours, the 49ers are definitely not set at the cornerback position. They've got guys like Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver, with Tramaine Brock also having recently re-signed, but there's not much else.
So what does Cox bring to the table?
He brings a whole lot of character issues that the 49ers hope are resolved. It's unclear how they plan to use him, but he's been considered a very high-potential guy at the cornerback position and would appear to still have some upside. But he's not a guaranteed commodity by any means, especially coming out of the fifth round.
That being said, Cox fell to the fifth round for a couple reasons. On one hand, he ran a slow 40 and that took him down from perhaps a second-round status, and there were wide reports of potential character issues. Those character issues eventually dropped him down to the 137th pick in the draft, where the Denver Broncos took him. There was some definite talk about his upside, as a potential successor to Champ Bailey, which certainly is high praise.
On the field with Denver, Cox played well, and made a successful transition to playing corner in the NFL. Then there was the sexual assault charge that led to his arrest and release from the team. Those are two very dirty words, and something 49ers fans generally aren't familiar with when it comes to one of their rostered players. In short, Cox was charged with raping an incoherent woman, though he was very recently declared not guilty.
It's true that the "in short" is followed by something very serious and very hard-hitting. It's kind of odd, as the 49ers aren't typically signing guys with these kind of character issues. Suffice to say that everyone, and especially this writer, hope that Cox didn't ever approach the level of sickening that the case alleged and that he is beyond being in those kinds of situations.
So back to the present day, where he was given a two-year deal, a year away from football and doesn't seem to have a whole lot planned in regards to what he'll be doing in 2012 with the 49ers. There is a big chance that Cox will be used as a return-man on punts and kickoffs, something he was highly productive with in college. This would mean that Ted Ginn Jr. is unlikely to be back with the 49ers in 2012 and could sign elsewhere once free agency starts.
But he almost surely will get a chance to play on defense. The 49ers are not stacked in their secondary and he should have plenty of opportunities to play up to the fact that he was considered one of the highest potential corners in the 2010 draft. From a potential standpoint, the signing makes world of sense and he can probably do some great things if he's stayed in as good a shape as he says he has. He spent a ton of time training, has played under Ed Donatell, and has some connections on the roster that could be a good influence.
Only time will tell if the Cox signing is a good one, but it's likely that this is a very team-friendly deal, regardless. Now it's a question of whether or not Jim Harbaugh can keep that locker room in check, especially with someone like Randy Moss having just been brought in, as well.