Asomugha Comfortable with SF Defense



The physical tools that made Nnamdi Asomugha a household name have not been unleashed at 49ers Organized Team Activities.

Due to the NFL's rules against contact in the offseason, the 11-year veteran is not able to play press-man coverage and use his 6-foot-2, 210-pound body to his advantage. However, that doesn't mean Asomugha can't make the most of his first offseason with the San Francisco 49ers.

"We can't be as aggressive," Asomugha, the former cornerback with the Raiders and Eagles said on Tuesday. "You definitely can't do what you can do in a game."

Even so, Asomugha has spent the bulk of the 2013 offseason conditioning and picking up San Francisco's defensive system.

"The adjustment hasn't been that hard," he said.

The veteran cornerback has been intent on learning all the nuances of Vic Fangio's defense. Asomugha has been pleased at how the transition from Philadelphia to San Francisco has been going so far.

"This is a really solid defense all the way around," the four-time All-Pro said. "Since everybody knows the defense, it's really easy to communicate.

"Anything I don't get I can ask anybody on the defense and they pretty much have it down."

Although Asomugha hasn't played press-man just yet with the 49ers, he values the system in place for the team's cornerbacks and is eagerly anticipating training camp when contact comes back into play.

Asomugha, however, won't be asked to only play man coverage for the 49ers. Right now, Asomugha is competing for a prominent role in San Francisco's defensive backfield. Following a two-year stint in Philadelphia, Asomugha signed a one-year contract with the 49ers to return to California and compete for a Super Bowl.

Asomugha believes his third NFL team uses the perfect balance of defensive principles.

"There's a really good mix of zones and man," he said. "It's more diverse than you think. You can switch back and forth."

So while Asomugha might have a reputation for locking down receivers at the line of scrimmage, he's growing more comfortable with the zone defenses being used with the 49ers. Asomugha explained that some of San Francisco's zone defenses involve man-to-man principles.

Asomugha played primarily as a press-man corner on the left side of the field in Oakland where he played the first eight seasons of his career and earned three Pro Bowl selections. Lofty expectations continued when Asomugha signed with the Eagles in 2011. It a difficult adjustment, Asomugha revelead. That's because he was behind the learning curve due to the NFL's offseason work stoppage. In 2013, it's a different situation for the veteran defensive back.

"The beauty of it, the last time I had to make an adjustment it had to be done in a day because it was the lockout year," Asomugha said. "There wasn't much time."

In 2013, Asomugha has more than three months to pick up San Francisco's full defensive system before the regular season begins.

He also has the full support of his defensive teammates.

"It's different when everyone has the defense down and one guy needs the answers and everyone can help him out," Asomugha said, pointing to the majority of defensive personnel entering its third season under Fangio. "It's not like everyone is trying to learn something new."

Asomugha is the new guy in the room and is still being welcomed with open arms.

"The locker room is great it's a really good group of guys," Asomugha said of his new teammates. "They told me before I got here that was the case, but you never know what you're going to walk into. These have been some great teammates, some hard-working guys so it's been really good."

Asomugha, too, will continue his hard work.

There's no guarantee where he'll line up in 2013 and how significant his role will be, but Asomugha continues to push himself to improve.

"Right now I'm just competing. I want to come out here and do my best and help the team out as much as I can."


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