SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Nnamdi Asomugha backpedaled fast, read the route and aggressively cut in front of wideout Marlon Moore to knock away Colin Kaepernick’s pass.
If Asomugha keeps that up, cracking the 49ers’ roster shouldn’t be a problem once training camp ends.
Saturday, the 49ers suited up in pads for the first time, and that allowed Asomugha to show the press-coverage skills that once made him an elite cornerback.
“It’s definitely good for when you want to be aggressive, to have the pads back on,” Asomugha, 32, said. “Until now, it’s been just working on your feet and hands. Now the aggressive part starts.”
The 49ers return all five cornerbacks from last season’s NFC-winning team, and although Asomugha brings 10 years of experience, he must show the top-notch form he developed his first eight seasons with the Raiders rather than his subpar level the past two years with the Philadelphia Eagles.
So far, Asomugha is pleased with how he has meshed with what he calls a “really nice” scheme, one that offers a seemingly balanced mix of man and zone coverages.
“One of the big things I’ve been happy about it is my ability to make plays on the defense so far, from this spring into summer,” said Asomugha, who stands to make $1.35 million if he makes the opening-day roster.
Just as were the Raiders in Asomugha’s rookie year 2003, the 49ers are coming off a Super Bowl defeat. Asomugha has never played on a playoff team. He senses something special with the 49ers, stating: “All 32 teams think this is going to be the year they win the Super Bowl. It’s coming from a real place, here. I’ve never been around that.”
Asomugha’s 6-foot-2 frame isn’t just benefiting the cornerback corps but also the 49ers’ receivers. “That’s going to be good work for us, because we go up against a lot of cornerbacks with that long body like his, those tall guys up north,” wideout Kyle Williams said, referring to Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.