When the San Francisco 49ers signed cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha in the offseason, it was well known that he would have to earn his roster spot. Asomugha was inked to a one-year deal that did not guarantee him any salary for the 2013 season. The deal allowed the 49ers to see if the once dominant corner had anything left without any financial risk. After two disappointing seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Asomugha had a lot to prove.
The thought was that Asomugha was miscast in the Eagles’ zone coverage scheme. At 6’2 and 215 pounds, he was much better suited in man coverage where he could use his long arms and strength in more of man to man, press coverage. The 49ers’ coaching staff is very good at putting their players in situations they are comfortable in and could use Asomugha properly.
When Chris Culliver went down for the year with an ACL injury, it looked like Asomugha’s chances of making the team greatly increased. After all, Carlos Rogers plays the slot position in nickel situations and the Niners would need someone to play outside opposite Tarell Brown. That is why defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s comments were a bit alarming.
“We didn’t really know what we were getting when we got Nnamdi,” Fangio said. “He’s had some good days out here and some days where you weren’t sure if he was going to still have it. I think we’re kind of in between with him right now.”
“Hopefully he’ll still have some gas left in his tank to go out there and play like he did prior to going to Philadelphia. So, I think the jury is still out there,” Fangio said. “Nnamdi is at this stage too in his career where some guys start losing, their physical skills start to diminish. We just have to see if that’s entering his picture too or not.”
Fangio’s words are not exactly a ringing endorsement for Asomugha. Even more alarming is the news that Tramaine Brock is making a strong case for the number three cornerback position in place of Culliver. Should he win that battle, there may be no place for Asomugha as the team could be better suited going with a player like Perrish Cox who can help them on special teams.
The Niners continued interest in former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ cornerback Eric Wright also signals that the team may not be completely happy with what they are seeing out of Asomugha (or possibly some of the other corners).
Should Asomugha not make it in San Francisco, it might be safe to say his career is in jeopardy. It’s a precipitous fall for a player who was the most coveted free agent on the market just two seasons ago. It will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds throughout the 49ers’ preseason slate.
Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports
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