49ers Mailbag II: Wright might start in '14

49ers Mailbag II: Wright might start in '14
September 29, 2013, 9:00 am
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Eric Wright is eligible to begin practicing on Oct. 15. Once he begins practicing, the 49ers will have a 21-day window to activate him to the 53-man roster. (AP)

Editor's note: The 49ers are 2-2 after the first quarter of the season. And there are plenty of questions on both sides of the ball. Today, we address some defense-related topics with this edition of 49ers Mailbag.

Will Eric Wright make the roster? Brock looked good on Thursday. (‪@Danilo_exhales‬)
Veteran cornerback Eric Wright, whom the 49ers signed on Aug. 8, did not immediately report to the team. He was placed on the non-football illness list, as he dealt with a personal issue.

General manager Trent Baalke likes Wright a lot. The team attempted to sign him as a free agent in 2012. Wright will be eligible to begin practicing on Oct. 15. Once he begins practicing, the 49ers will have a 21-day window to activate him to the 53-man roster.

Wright will be on the team. And, if he takes care of business on and off the field, expect the 49ers to re-sign him as a potential starter for the 2014 season.

The 49ers have a lot of uncertainty at cornerback. Tarell Brown is scheduled for free agency. The 49ers and Brown have not shown any signs of coming to a resolution on a contract extension after he unknowingly forfeited a $2 million escalator with his absence in the offseason program. Carlos Rogers is under contract, but the 49ers are not likely to pay his scheduled $6.6 million price for next season. Tramaine Brock and Nnamdi Asomugha are playing this season on one-year deals.

Brock played very well as the No. 3 cornerback on Thursday against the St. Louis Rams in place of Asomugha. Brock showed why the organization has thought highly of him for several years now.

Remember, Brock was the team’s third corner to open the 2011 season, and he intercepted passes in the first two games before missing several weeks with a hand injury. When Brock was available to return, Chris Culliver was entrenched as the No. 3 cornerback. Culliver will return next season after missing this year with a torn ACL.

The immediate question that faces the 49ers’ coaching staff is whether to stick with Brock or go back to Asomugha, who should be available to face the Houston Texans after missing Thursday’s game with a knee injury.

Will Fangio continue to blitz more due to loss of key personnel? (@HarpMarc)
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio did a lot more scheming with outside linebacker Aldon Smith on the non-football illness list after seeking in-patient treatment for substance abuse.

Over the past two years, Fangio had the best of both worlds when it came to passing downs. He had a four-man pass rush that could generate pressure on the quarterback while not sacrificing anything on the back end with seven men in coverage.

On Thursday, linebacker NaVorro Bowman blitzed 13 times, according to Pro Football Focus, on 46 drop backs to pass from St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.

[REWIND: Bowman steps up for 49ers]

Fangio must continue to show creativity with the pass rush in the likelihood that Smith will be out of for another four games. ‪So, yes, expect more blitzes than what was typical for the 49ers over the past two seasons.

Has Corey Lemonier cemented himself as a starter until Smith returns? (@MattLaw2424‬)
Actually, Lemonier was not the starter. The 49ers used a two-headed approach to replacing Aldon Smith.

Veteran Dan Skuta started and played 32 snaps, mostly as a standing up outside linebacker on base downs. Then, Lemonier entered when the 49ers went with their nickel defense. He played 43 snaps, mostly as a defensive end when the 49ers went with a four-man line.

That approach seemed to work against the Rams, so expect to see the rotation continue for as long as Smith is unavailable.

What will you be doing on Sunday since no 49ers game to cover? (@JVTBoys‬)
Yeah, it seems odd to be at home on a Sunday. I’ll have my TV on the NFL RedZone channel, and I’ll hide the remote from my children.

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