In a move that will surprise no one besides gossip columnists hoping to see Kerry Washington in the stands at Candlestick Park sometime in the future, Ian Rapoport reported today that the 49ers will activate Eric Wright and waive Nnamdi Asomugha, who’s been inactive since Week 3.
Asomugha won the No. 3 cornerback job out of camp, but it sounded like Vic Fangio was skeptical on Aug. 2.
“We didn’t really know what we were getting when we got Nnamdi. 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 be able to 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.”
This appears to be a situation where the 49ers had little to lose in giving Asomugha a chance to recapture his prior brilliance as a cover corner, especially after looking pretty good in camp and during the preseason. When the real games started and Asomugha started missing tackles, the decision to shelve him was easy after he injured his knee. As a non-contributor on special teams who looked lost at times — particularly during running plays — the only reason Asomugha was kept around was as insurance in case Tramaine Brock played poorly, one of the four cornerbacks ahead of him got injured, or Eric Wright turned out to be a bust.
The 49ers tried dealing a conditional late-round pick in 2014 for Wright, but then a strange series of events occurred. First, the world found out Wright was arrested on July 12 for suspicion of DUI. The 49ers then determined that Wright failed his physical, so the trade was rescinded. Tampa Bay subsequently released Wright, and the 49ers signed him.
So there’s something the 49ers like about Wright, who happens to share a name with Easy-E and the former 49ers cornerback who the team selected in the 1981 draft along with Ronnie Lott and Carlton Williamson. The Wright who was born in 1985 grew up near Candlestick Park as a 49ers fan. He also attended Riordan High.
Wright is a guy who’s been around the block — after redshirting his first year and playing one season with USC, he transferred to UNLV. After one year with the Running Rebels, Wright declared for the NFL Draft and was taken by the Cleveland Browns. Wright started 55 games in four years with Cleveland, signed for a year with Detroit, then inked a five-year, $37.5 million deal with Tampa in 2012.
Fangio, who noted that Wright has played some in the slot as well as on the outside since he started practicing recently, sounded much more optimistic about Wright’s chances on Oct. 24 than he did about Asomugha’s back in early August.
“He’s getting better and better. And put him in there yesterday with some of the defensive stuff. Last week he primarily did the scout team work. This week we’ve put him in there with the defense, snaps, few snaps here and there. And he’s done well. Obviously he’s not comfortable in the system yet. But, he’s a guy that we think once he kind of grasps it, he’ll grow leaps and bounds quickly because he’s played in the league. He’s done a lot of the things we do. He just has to learn to work with our guys and our lingo.”
No one should feel too bad for Asomugha, who was going to receive $4 million from the Eagles regardless of what happened in San Francisco. His wife, who recently hosted Saturday Night Live, is pregnant with the couple’s first child. Due to their connection, an US Weekly reporter interviewed yours truly a few weeks ago to find out more about Asomugha. However, she sounded disappointed when I told her that Asomugha probably wouldn’t be on the team much longer, and that I hadn’t seen Washington hanging around the 49ers facility.