Nnamdi Asomugha Standing out in San Francisco 49ers Camp

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While it wasn’t exactly Nnamdi Watch 2.0 after the veteran cornerback was released by the Philadelphia Eagles early in the offseason, there were some who believed that the veteran cornerback could still be a viable cover option.

After all, some of his struggles in Philadelphia over the past two seasons after coming over from Oakland in a lucrative contract had to do with scheme fit. The Eagles played off-man coverage, which just didn’t seem to be a fit for the former Pro Bowl cornerback. In fact, his early-career success came with him playing more at the line with the Raiders.

In order for Asomugha to rebound from those two down seasons, he needed to find the right scheme to fit his talents.

That fit came in the form of the San Francisco 49ers, who signed Asomugha to a non-guaranteed one-year contract during the spring. On the surface, this deal didn’t guarantee the veteran a spot on the 53-man roster. Heck, he isn’t guaranteed a thing at this point.

News that Chris Culliver tore his ACL late last week might tell us something about Asomugha’s ability to make the team when camp breaks late this month. Culliver was going to be relied on as either a No. 2 opposite Tarell Brown or San Francisco’s top nickel guy. That’s obviously not going to be the case anymore, as Culliver will miss the entire season.

In addition, San Francisco briefly acquired Eric Wright in a trade with Tampa Bay before the deal was nixed due to a failed physical. It goes without saying that even before Culliver’s injury, Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh were not sold on San Francisco’s cornerback situation.

Enter into the equation Asomugha, who has been mighty impressive early in camp.

He’s not only making plays against second or third-team scrubs, rather Asomugha is going up against some elite offensive players and performing up to a high level. This is what Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area saw at practice during the earlier part of last week: 

During a red-zone period, Asomugha found himself matched against Boldin in the right front corner of the end zone. Kaepernick’s pass was high and Asomugha went up with Boldin and knocked the ball away to prevent the touchdown.

Maiocco concluded earlier in the article that Asomugha had his best day of practice thus far.

This is huge news for a 49ers’ defense that needs someone to step up and fill the void that opened up with the loss of Culliver for the season.

That being said, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has gone on record indicating that Asomugha isn’t guaranteed a darn thing as it relates to a roster spot.

We really didn’t now what we were getting when we got Nnamdi…He’s had some good days out here and some days when we weren’t sure if he’d be able to still have it. I think we’re kind of in between on him right now.

Hopefully, he’ll still be able to 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.

Those are some pretty harsh words directed at a player that has stood out in camp.

While we have no idea how San Francisco’s cornerback situation will play out, it’s nearly a guarantee that Asomugha will make the team out of camp. The larger question here is, what role will he play?

 

Vincent Frank is an NFL featured columnist at Bleacher Report.

Vincent is the head sports editor at eDraft, co-host of Draft Sports Radio (which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. ET) and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus. He’s also the news director here at PFC and co-host of Football Debate Central with Ryan Riddle 8:00-9:30 every Wednesday.