In July 2011, Nnamdi Asomugha had just signed a big money deal with the Philadelphia Eagles and was considered to be the best or one of the two best cornerbacks in the NFL. Fast forward to today and Asomugha finds himself at a career crossroads after two miserable and disappointing seasons with the Eagles.
To get an idea of how much Asomugha has dropped in terms of performance, one need to only look at the rating of opposition’s quarterbacks. According to Pro Football Focus, in 2010 when he played for the Oakland Raiders, opposing quarterbacks had a 66.0 QB rating when targeting Asomugha. In 2012, opposing QB’s had a 120.6 rating when targeting Asomugha.
Having signed onto a one-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers, Asomugha needs to look no further than fellow cornerback Carlos Rogers as proof that he can give his career a much needed kick start. Like Asomugha, Rogers signed with the 49ers on an original one-year contract, moving over after having been with an NFC East team in the Washington Redskins. Rogers had a disappointing and frustrating end to his time as a Redskins player, something that was also true of Asomugha with his time as an Eagles player.
The similarities do not end there. Both the Eagles and Redskins at the time Asomugha and Rogers left to sign and play for the 49ers were in a situation where their was organizational instability and transition of coaching regimes. It can be said that Asomugha’s play suffered as the Eagles decision to play a wide nine/zone coverage scheme was not the best suited for Asomugha, who with the Raiders strictly played in a man-to-man coverage scheme. The switch and decision to play said defensive scheme clearly was an issue for the Eagles the last two seasons.
Now with the 49ers, Asomugha is coming into an environment where he can find himself again as a player. He will not be burdened of being a big-contract signing and having to adjust to a new defense like the rest of his teammates. The 49ers defensive scheme also is one where the cornerbacks mainly play man-to-man, a scheme that Asomugha is much more comfortable with as a cornerback.
Aside from being with a team that is not experiencing some organizational turmoil, Asomugha should also benefit from being back in a region where he is comfortable being in and one that over the years has embraced him as one of their own, dating back to his college days at California.
I am not saying that Asomugha will replicate the six-interception, second team All-Pro selection season that Rogers had in his first year as a 49ers player. But in Rogers, Asomugha can look at a player in his same position and take note that it is possible to have a career resurrection with the 49ers. The San Fran struck gold once on such a low risk move for a cornerback, it’s not improbable for it to happen a second time.