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Chris Culliver Could Get Start If Tarell Brown Can't Play Against Cardinals

With Tarell Brown listed as questionable on Friday for the San Francisco 49ers comes a lot of uncertainty. San Francisco has been one of the few teams to do well against Larry FItzgerald specifically, and the 49ers could be in a position where rookie Chris Culliver is starting and on the field for every play, opposite Carlos Rogers. It's really debatable in regards to whether or not that's a good thing for the 49ers.

Culliver has mostly exceeded expectations since being drafted in the third round. Most 49ers fans hadn't even heard of the guy, which is exactly the opposite of what you want that early on in the draft. Still, he's come in and had some good games, seeing the field early and has moved into the nickel corner role. That being said, Culliver was picked on a lot in last week's game against the New York Giants.

The only reason Mario Manningham didn't have even more yards was because Eli Manning overthrew a couple of them. He had Culliver beat multiple times, and almost every time that Manning threw a bad pass, too. Is it really wise to have him on the field, likely ending up matched on Larry Fitzgerald a few times a game? Maybe not - but it might be the team's only option if Brown can't go on Sunday.

Brown will be a game time decision, and if he can't go, then Shawntae Spencer will likely be active. Spender had a career resurgence in 2009, having a stellar year, but played poorly in  2010. Sidelined by injuries at the beginning of 2011, he never really got any time to get familiar with the coaching staff, and has been inactive the past two games. Spencer has always played well against Fitzgerald, shutting him down for often than naught.

It's not yet known if the 49ers don't believe in Spencer or if they just trust the other guys more. Maybe Spencer has aged quite a bit over the last season and he's just lost a very big step. Whatever the case, it might be a smart idea to have  him in the lineup on Sunday if he's healthy. Culliver probably shouldn't spend much time covering Fitzgerald at all, or it won't matter which quarterback is throwing to him.