49ers Sign FA CB James to One-Year Deal

Nickel corner? Fourth guy? Fifth?

The 49ers finally confirmed what had been reported for a week now, announcing the signing of free agent cornerback William James to a one-year deal for undisclosed terms. James, a nine-year veteran who's been with the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars, and most recently, with the Detroit Lions, will be competing for a backup role in the secondary.

James, 30, at 6'0 tall and 200 pounds, has the kind of size the 49ers covet in their corners, and his addition to the team will likely close the door on the notion of the team re-signing veteran free agents Dre' Bly or Walt Harris. The team signed CB Karl Paymah away from the Minnesota Vikings last month and drafted CB Phillip Adams out of South Carolina State in the 7th round of the draft as well.

What James' role will be, whether he'll get a crack at the nickel job or will simply be fighting for a roster spot during training camp, is unclear. He started 14 of 16 games last season for the Lions and had 73 tackles and an interception. Over his career he's started 60 of 92 games and come up with eight picks.

With Shantae Spencer, Nate Clements and Tarell Brown already on the roster in addition to Paymah, Keith Smith and a host of undrafted free agent signings, the Niners have a lot of options in the secondary and it should make for an intense August on their Santa Clara practice fields.

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