It seems more and more likely that when the 49ers suit up this Sunday to play the Carolina Panthers, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha won’t be on the roster.
With San Francisco due to make several roster moves this week – including the activation of wide receiver Mario Manningham, cornerback Eric Wright and rookie linebacker Nick Moody – some current 49ers will have to pay the price of their jobs. And Asomugha, the former All-Pro and Raiders standout who was trying to resurrect his career in San Francisco, seems the likely target, reports Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.
“Asomugha has been a healthy scratch for three weeks and at age 32 he seems unlikely to be in the 49ers’ future plans at the position,” wrote Barrows.
Barrows noted that it isn’t as if Asomugha has played that poorly. But when he was sidelined by a minor injury, Tramaine Brock took his place as the nickel cornerback and has been outstanding. Undrafted rookie corner Darryl Morris also has been very good and has seen increased playing time in recent weeks. Now with the veteran Wright, 28, ready to play, Asomugha figures to be the odd man out.
Asomugha has played in just three games for the 49ers (6-2), who come out of their bye week this Sunday to play the Panthers at Candlestick Park.
Wright began practicing with the 49ers in mid-October, and the former Lion and Buccaneer appears ready to help.
“He’s done a real nice job,” said head coach Jim Harbaugh recently. “He’s in a real good place right now.”
The 49ers went after Asomugha in the offseason in hopes he could regain the form he lost in Philadelphia. The Niners wanted to strengthen their secondary, which has been vulnerable in the postseason, particularly in games vs. the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game and the Ravens in the Super Bowl. Asomugha, a bigger, more physical corner, could be a better matchup against stronger receivers, thought the 49ers staff.
But Brock clearly has outplayed Asomugha, and the Niners like Wright, who has 14 interceptions in 81 career NFL games and has experience playing on the outside as well as in the slot.
Recently, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Wright has been looking increasingly better in practice as he’s gotten more familiar with the system.
“He’s a guy, once he grasps it, he’ll grow leaps and bounds because he’s played in the league and has done a lot of things we do,” Fangio told 49ers.com.
This week, that could mean Asomugha’s bid to rebuild his career with the 49ers comes to a sudden end. If the 49ers weigh all the factors and vote for Wright this week, Asomugha will likely be out of a job.
“If he (Wright) shows he can play better than who we have playing, that’s the guy who will play,” said Fangio.