Nnamdi Asomugha said he is continuing to study the defensive schemes of the 49ers throughout the minicamp and OTAs. Even though he is entering his 11th season in the NFL, he is a student like everyone else.
“I’m still learning and still getting everything mentally down,” Asomugha said during minicamp. “People would question why I’m in my 11th year and still taking notes like a rookie. I think it’s been my approach and every year is a new one for me.”
In the last two years, Asomugha’s tenure in Philadelphia had signs of struggles. He signed a five-year, $60 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2011 offseason and was considered to be the top prize in free agency.
After talking with several teams, Asomugha signed with the 49ers to a one year contract, worth up to $3 million with no guaranteed money. So far, he has liked his time returning to the Bay Area, the first time since 2010 on the team where he started his NFL career in the Oakland Raiders. He said the locker room has been good and being with this 49ers team has been a great experience.
“The feeling [being with the 49ers] has been really good so far,” said Asomugha. “The atmosphere around here doesn’t allow you to feel negative in anyway. It’s been really good so far to keep working.”
Asomugha was one of the best shutdown corners in the league while with the Raiders. A three-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro CB, Asomugha excelled in man coverage and was one of the most feared cornerbacks in the game.
While he has been transitioning to his third team in his career, Asomugha said he likes working with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
“There’s a lot of things about the defense from Fangio,” said Asomugha. “He’s really smart and knows when to call certain plays and has a lot in his arsenal.”
The secondary was one of the best in the nation last year, allowing only 200 yards through the air which was ranked fourth in the NFL. Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown are the incumbent CBs, but Fangio hinted that Rogers is viewed as a nickel cornerback. Asomugha said he would be fine with working on both the left and right sides of the field if needed.
Asomugha admitted that he didn’t watch the Super Bowl and has had to learn everything back from the bottom while with the 49ers. In terms of schemes, the Eagles used a multiple-style of defense which Asomugha struggled through the last two seasons. There were times he was caught in zone coverage and not staying in his zone.
Fangio said he has enjoyed Asomugha’s presence throughout the offseason in Santa Clara. He feels Asomugha can adapt to the team’s system but only time will tell if it becomes true or not.
“I do think he’s a good fit as a guy and a person,” said Fangio. “He’s been a tremendous guy here. It remains to be seen how well he can cover. [He has] to be able to cover at the corner position. But, I do think our style of play does potentially fit his style where he’s at in his career right now. So, hopefully he can make a strong contribution to us. But, that’s yet to be determined.”
While the expectations in San Francisco aren’t as high as it was in Philadelphia, Asomugha still wants to prove he is capable of being a shutdown corner again. His disappointing seasons from the last two years are reasons for motivation with the 49ers.
“I want to come out and play hard to show what I can do,” said Asomugha. “My approach is still the same to be as great as I can be on the field and show what I can do.”