Brock's new role keeps Asomugha on sideline

Three and Out: Boldin needs help, Asomugha's role diminishing

Brock's new role keeps Asomugha on sideline
October 11, 2013, 9:00 am
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Last week, Tramaine Brock became the sixth 49ers cornerback in club history to earn NFC Defensive Player of the Week. (AP)

SANTA CLARA -- Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had "the talk" with veteran cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha last week.

Asomugha was physically well enough to play against the Houston Texans after sitting out the Sept. 26 game against the St. Louis Rams with a banged-up right knee. But the 49ers decided Tramaine Brock would get the nod over Asomugha as the 49ers’ No. 3 cornerback.

“Yeah, we talked about it last week,” Fangio said. “(We) haven’t had to talk about it this week, obviously.”

Obviously, Brock is now the 49ers’ No. 3 cornerback after becoming the sixth 49ers cornerback in club history -- and the first since Walt Harris in 2006 -- to earn NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

[RELATED: Brock named Defensive Player of the Week]

Coach Jim Harbaugh indicated on Monday that Brock would remain as the third corner -- and typically play more than half of the team’s defensive snaps as part of the nickel package.

Brock intercepted two passes from Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. He returned his first pick 18 yards for a touchdown just 90 seconds into the game en route to a 34-3 victory.

As long as Brock is playing well and remains healthy, Asomugha does not figure to suit up as part of the team’s active 46 players on game days.

As an 11-year veteran, Asomugha does not provide the 49ers any contributions on special teams. Any player who is the fourth cornerback must also have value on special teams.

Perrish Cox and rookie Darryl Morris are reserve cornerbacks who also play significant roles on special teams.

The 49ers also expect to activate veteran cornerback Eric Wright from the reserve/non-football illness list in the coming weeks. He is eligible to begin practicing next week. Fangio said he will not know when -- or if -- Wright will be able to help the 49ers’ defense until he sees him on the field.

“I’ll be better able to answer that after he goes through some practices out here,” Fangio said. “To get in shape and run with the strength coaches and the trainers and do drills is one thing. But football is another. And he’s learning our system in meetings. But learning it in a meeting and executing it on the field are two different things. So, if and when he’s ready to play and play well, we’ll activate him, put him on the 53 and go.”

Once the 49ers determine Wright can help the 49ers on the 53-man roster, they will have to make a move to clear a spot. And that could make Asomugha’s spot with the 49ers even more tenuous. Asomugha signed a one-year, $1.35 million contract with the 49ers in the offseason after the Philadelphia Eagles released him after two seasons. Brock, a fourth-year pro, is earning $1.323 million after the 49ers tendered him as a restricted free agent.

The 49ers parted ways with rookie Marcus Cooper, a seventh-round draft pick who has made a significant impact with the Kansas City Chiefs this season. But the 49ers have shown to have good depth at the cornerback positions behind starters Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown.

“We feel that if we have to play any of them we’ll just continue to play our package the way we like to play it and make an adjustment here or there,” Fangio said. “We feel good about those guys. A lot of them are very close in their abilities. It hasn’t always been easy to distinguish who to play in certain situations. But, obviously, it’s good to have choices.”