49ers to Rotate Third Cornerback

The 49ers will use a rotation at nickel cornerback with Chris Culliver on the mend.

"We took a shot there yesterday, it puts a stress on everybody in the group," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said the day after the third-year cornerback injured his left knee and has reportedly suffered a torn ACL.

Fangio said it will be a rotating competition to see who lines up as San Francisco's third cornerback. Fourth-year cornerback Tramaine Brock and 11-year veteran cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will be first in line to compete for the key role in the nickel defense.

"We've got guys who played there last year," Fangio began. "We brought in Nnamdi to try and help sure up that group and right now we'll have to see how it sorts itself in the preseason games and in the rest of practices."

Fangio also didn't rule out using starting cornerback Tarell Brown as a left cornerback or as a nickel cornerback.

The first opportunity to seize the nickel job at Thursday's practice was given to Brock, an emerging cornerback who was praised by Fangio for his quickness, ball skills, and ability to line up all over the field.

The 49ers defensive coordinator also pointed out that the 5-foot-10, 197-pound cornerback started the 2011 season as San Francisco's third cornerback, but lost his job to Culliver after injuring his hand early in the regular season.

"There will be an opportunity for him to go out there, show what he's got and take this job," Fangio said of Brock.

As for Asomugha, the three-time Pro Bowler who signed a one-year contract with the 49ers in the offseason, Fangio is still discovering whether or not the 6-foot-2, 210-pound veteran will be able to handle the role this late in his career.

"He's had some good days out here," Fangio said of the cornerback with 15 career interceptions. "Hopefully he'll still be able to have some gas in the tank.

"I think the jury is still out there."

The cornerback rotation for the 49ers will continue to be examined in the preseason and in the duration of training camp.

It will most likely involved players on the team's current roster.

Finding a free agent this late into the offseason seems unrealistic to Fangio. The coordinator also said he wasn't involved with the team's failed pursuit of free agent Eric Wright. The 49ers coordinator only knew that the trade was made when Fangio arrived to the team's facility, but quickly learned that Wright failed a physical and would revert back to Tampa Bay.

Fangio will evaluate the players on his roster and find out the best arrangement of cornerbacks to fill in for Culliver. "The good side of it is a lot of the younger guys will get more reps," Fangio said.


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