It didn’t take long for
Rogers signed a contract a week into the 2011 training camp and it wasn’t long after that the veteran cornerback publicly spoke out about wanting to play long-term for the 49ers.
In fact, he did it at several points of the regular season, a year which the 49ers won 13 regular season games and the team’s first NFC West division crown since 2002.
Coincidence or not, Rogers made his first Pro Bowl with the 49ers as well.
That’s part of the reason Rogers reiterated his infatuation with the 49ers on Thursday, while discussing his recently signed four-year contract extension in an afternoon conference call with Bay Area reporters.
“I’m just excited to be back,” said a rested Rogers, who recently returned from a family vacation to the Bahamas. “It wasn’t a big process for me. I knew I wanted to come back, (by) Week 4 or 5.”
Rogers’ initial gut feelings about the 49ers turned out to be reciprocated as multiple reports on the first night of the 2012 free agency period declared Rogers had signed a contract extension to remain with the 49ers through the 2015 season.
Rogers’ return gives the 49ers all 11 defensive starters back for 2012. It’s also the first time he’s ever experienced that rarity in seven NFL seasons (six with the Washington Redskins).
“This is a first for me and I’m pretty sure it’s rare for a lot of guys,” Rogers admitted. “It’s a credit to our front office and our coaches.”
Besides the defense being intact, Rogers was thrilled to see some of the 49ers offensive moves in the free agency process: signing
“I was happy,” Rogers said. “With Moss… Just his name is a threat out there, he’s somebody you can’t have single covered. You’ve got to put a double out there for him. He’s going to open up space for a lot of guys.”
Rogers won’t have to worry about covering those two like in years past, but he’ll certainly be counted on to match up against some of the league’s top receivers.
Identified as a talented player who could contribute as a starter, Rogers made the front office and coaches look good while playing inside on slot receivers and lining up outside as a cornerback in Vic Fangio’s defensive scheme. In one season in San Francisco, Rogers embraced his versatile role and his time around new teammates.
Re-joining the team was a major priority during Rogers’ short-lived time as a free agent. The 6-foot, 192-pound cornerback figured if he’d sign for a bigger deal elsewhere his long-term stability could be affected if that team struggled to turn things around.
With the 49ers, Rogers is content being a part of one of the league’s top defensive units that came within a few plays from reaching the Super Bowl.
For that unit, Rogers started in every game and tied for the team lead with six interceptions (tied for fourth-most in the NFL). Rogers showcased a propensity for supporting to the run game, too. He added 57 tackles to go along with 18 pass breakups.
“Coach Vic put me in position to make a lot of plays,” Rogers said.
The veteran defensive back is looking to continue it in 2012 without over-cooking it, a phrase head coach Jim Harbaugh used to describe his team’s postseason mindset.
“I’m not going to put pressure on myself that, ‘because of the season I had last year, I’ve got to do this,’” Rogers explained. “I’m just going to play my role. Once the opportunity presents itself, make a play. I’m hoping to have a good season.
“I don’t want to be one of those guys known as, you know, you make the Pro Bowl one time and just because you made it, you think they’ll put you back in again. I want to be one of the guys that some players say, ‘Oh he deserves to go back to the Pro Bowl,’ not just because he’s made it before.”
In order to build on his budding reputation, Rogers will have to take on the rigors that come with expectations. Now, opponents are expecting the very best from the 49ers defense.
Knowing that, it’s up to the 49ers to deliver the goods.
“We’re a group of guys, coaches and players that are going to work like last year and even harder to get better, week in and week out,” Rogers said.
So are the 49ers Super Bowl contenders heading into 2012?
“Time will tell,” Rogers said. “Favorite doesn’t mean anything. I promise you we weren’t one of the favorites to get there (last year). The (New Orleans) Saints were one of the favorites and we knocked them out. The (New York) Giants weren’t one of the favorites until they started winning, and they won the Super Bowl.
“I don’t get caught up in favorites. I just know we’ll work each day to try and get better, and we’ll see where we go.”
Even if the 49ers face a division winner’s schedule making things seemingly tougher on paper, Rogers is eager to get back to work with his team.
“It won’t be easy. We’re going to really have to work,” he said. “It’s going to take some work week in and week out… We’ve got a good group of players and great coaches. We’ll be up for the challenge, regardless.”
Click here to listen to Rogers' conference call