This was not how Eric Wright dreamed – or even drew – up his debut for his hometown team.
The 49ers fan-turned-cornerback was slated to don the red and gold for the first time on Sunday in New Orleans, but an injury forced him into significant playing time at a position he's still learning within San Francisco's defense.
Tarell Brown, the 49ers No. 1 cornerback, was carted off the field in the second quarter of the team's 23-20 defeat at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome because of a rib contusion. That moved Wright, who recorded his first four tackles, up a spot, into the unit's No. 3 defensive back.
PHOTOS: 49ers vs. Saints
"I didn't have any jitters as far as being nervous about playing," Wright said. "I was worried about 'T. Brown' and the possibility of what his injury may be and was just hoping he was going to be alright."
"At the same time, I had a job to do, to come in and fill his spot in the nickel package. That's something that I was prepared for mentally as a possibility. But this week, I practiced inside more than outside – more the (dime) package than the nickel stuff. Mentally, I had to adjust to going out there and playing left corner as opposed to going out there and playing nickel or dime."
Missing Brown appeared to cost the 49ers dearly in the fourth quarter. Saints quarterback Drew Brees picked apart the defense during a drive that began at his 40-yard line with 1:41 showing on the scoreboard clock.
New Orleans' signal-caller would complete passes of 20 yards and 12 yards to wideout Marques Colston and tight end Jimmy Graham before his kicker, Garrett Hartley, nailed a third fourth-quarter field goal before the game's final three seconds ticked off.
Wright wanted the win. After missing the season's first 10 weeks – he was on the team's Non-Football Injury List after signing as a free agent during training camp – Wright instead received his first action in a narrow, not-so-easy atmosphere.
Brees' performance was an unfortunate capper.
"He's a really smart quarterback; they allow him to take over the game," Wright said. "They basically put the ball in his hands, to go out there to make plays. And he has guys all over the place, spreads 'em out, and he takes his pick in what he feels is best base on the coverage."