Friday, February 22, 2013
Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes revisited
By Mike Sando
The San Francisco 49ers showed zero meaningful interest in Nnamdi Asomugha when the Pro Bowl cornerback reached free agency two years ago.
At the time, the 49ers were moving on from Nate Clements. They needed a corner. Their newly hired defensive coordinator had once sought to build around an elite corner. There was some thought Asomugha could bring a Charles Woodson-type presence to a team that wasn't all that far away from contending.
The 49ers were also trying to rally support for a new stadium; an aggressive play in free agency could have signaled renewed commitment to winning.
Those were among the reasons I thought San Francisco should have considered departing from its well-reasoned aversion to overspending in free agency.
Two years later, the results are in.
Asomugha has been a disappointment in Philadelphia. The Eagles are reportedly planning to release Asomugha if they cannot work out a cheaper contract with him.
Instead of opening the vault for Asomugha, the 49ers signed Carlos Rogers to a one-year deal. Rogers earned Pro Bowl honors in 2011 before signing an extension. He had to earn his place in the 49ers' hierarchy. That is how the 49ers prefer to do business. They've placed a high priority on taking care of their own players in recent years. They've been averse to upsetting the locker room's natural order.
The 49ers have posted a 24-7 record (.766) and reached a Super Bowl since watching Asomugha sign with the Eagles. Philadelphia has gone 12-20 (.375) and fired its head coach over that span.
There were many reasons behind those disparate records, of course.
Having Asomugha likely would have helped the 49ers against Baltimore in the Super Bowl. It's fair to wonder whether his presence would have put San Francisco over the top, all else equal. The 49ers allowed three first-half touchdown passes, after all. But as the Eagles face tough choices with Asomugha, the 49ers' lower-keyed approach to free agency appears validated once again.