NFL Nation: Eric Wright

The San Francisco 49ers continued to add depth to the cornerback position by bringing back Perrish Cox on a one-year deal, his agent tweeted Tuesday.

Cox
Cox is expected to sign this week. He was to be a restricted free agent, but the 49ers didn’t tender him.

Cox bounced on and off the 49ers’ roster last season, but did play in the playoffs. He beat out veteran Eric Wright for playing time in the postseason. However, the 49ers signed Wright two weeks ago, indicating he is a bigger priority moving forward than Cox.

Cox, though, does lengthen the 49ers’ options at cornerback. Last week, we looked at where the position stands. So, Cox increased depth, at least, during training camp.

The 49ers will very likely use a high draft pick on a cornerback who will play a lot as a rookie.

The 49ers have just two remaining unrestricted free agents -- center Jonathan Goodwin and quarterback Colt McCoy. Only Goodwin has a chance to return, but that might be down the road.
With questions at cornerback, the San Francisco 49ers are bringing back veteran Eric Wright.

Wright
He tweeted a photo of the contract Wednesday afternoon. The Sacramento Bee reported he is signing a one-year deal. He signed a one-year deal with the 49ers last summer.

The San Francisco native has ability and he made some plays in a limited role. However, his playing time dipped severely in the playoffs and he ended up being inactive.

Still, the front office likes him. Wright will need to prove to the coaching staff that he is prepared to play this season. That was the issue late in the year. He could play nickel. The 49ers cornerback position is a work in progress. They cut Carlos Rogers on Wednesday, as expected, and Tarell Brown is a free agent.

The team has been talking to Miami free agent Nolan Carroll. If Brown doesn’t come back, the 49ers will add, at least, one cornerback is free agency. They are also expected to use an early pick on the position.

Corner a concern for the Lions

February, 13, 2014
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The joke starts something like this. It is the first round of an NFL draft. The Detroit Lions, again, have a high selection. So of course, the team will take a receiver.

Never mind the team has not taken a wide receiver in the first round since Calvin Johnson in 2007. This is the way Detroit is viewed when it comes to the draft even if it is an outdated notion. And while receiver is a need in May's draft and the Lions may end up going there in the first round, there is a bigger concern with the Lions.

The team still has issues finding capable guys to defend them.

[+] EnlargeDarius Slay
AP Photo/Dave MartinDarius Slay, whom the Lions selected in the second round last year, had an up-and-down rookie season at cornerback.
The Lions are once again looking for a cornerback in May's NFL draft, potentially as a first-round selection. While the team hasn't used a first-round pick on a corner since 1998, when the team drafted Terry Fair at No. 20, it could happen in May.

This has to be part of the reason Detroit went with Teryl Austin as its new defensive coordinator. Austin coached defensive backs for the majority of his career. And new coach Jim Caldwell believes defensive backs -- and the way they see the field -- are similar to quarterbacks.

For defensive backs, everything happens in front of them and they are often the last line of protection against big plays, so they see everything. With cornerbacks, Austin has a specific type he is looking for.

"You have to try and get, if you can, a bigger cornerback," Austin said. "A guy that can match up with the big receivers, a guy who has some physical toughness to him that's not afraid to tackle and a guy that has great ball skills.

"I think because of the amount of throwing in the game, if you have a guy that can't intercept the ball, teams will attack him because they know he won't intercept it. The best he's going to do is maybe knock it down. But if you have a guy that can intercept the ball and change the game, I think that's what you want."

This has been a particular problem in Detroit. Since 2001, the Lions are tied for second-to-worst in the NFL with interceptions by defensive backs with 138.

Austin's prototype for cornerbacks has always been taller equals better. In his three years in Baltimore and then his time in Arizona before that, he only had one cornerback shorter than 6-feet tall -- Lardarius Webb. Webb, though, was the exception for Austin.

As the Lions approach corners in this draft, the potential top target -- Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert -- fits those criteria. He is a hair over 6-feet at 6-foot 1/4 and has long arms and the capability to make big plays. Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State (5-foot-11 3/4), Bradley Roby from Ohio State (5-11 1/8), Florida's Loucheiz Purifoy (6-0) and Marcus Roberson (5-11 1/2) are other corners who could get early looks from the Lions as they all possess good hands and at least decent size.

But the Lions have spent multiple picks on cornerbacks since 2010 with differing levels of success. Having good corners has been an issue for Detroit for over a decade and no matter how the team has tried to fix the problem, it hasn't worked out too well. Amari Spievey, the Iowa cornerback the team drafted in the third round in 2010, ended up at safety and is no longer with the team.

Bill Bentley, the team's third-round pick in 2012, has been inconsistent. Chris Greenwood, the team's fifth-round pick that year, barely played. Jonte Green, the team's sixth-round pick in 2012, played more as a rookie than he did in 2013.

Last season's cornerback selection, second-rounder Darius Slay, won the starting job out of camp but lost it two games into the season to Rashean Mathis. By the end of the year, Slay showed signs of progress, in part due to the veteran who replaced him.

"He did it the right way where he'll be able to take care of his family and he took care of his body and stuff he just tells me, how to stay in the league long, has always helped out," Slay said toward the end of the 2013 season. "From a rookie standpoint, he's probably the best guy I've ever been around to continue to help pushing me forward."

Mathis helped teach Slay -- and some of the other cornerbacks -- about preparation and being a pro, something those cornerbacks clung to, particularly Slay. Austin seemed particularly encouraged by the development of Slay, while saying he has a lot of "growing pains," he sees potential for a good corner in the future. Some of that has to do with Mathis, and one of the underrated parts of his signing was the work he did with them.

There is no guarantee he will return due to Detroit's cap issues, Mathis' age and his status as an unrestricted free agent next month.

This leads to the other issues Detroit has had with corners -- and why the position is again a priority.

"In the NFL," Austin said. "You can't have enough corners."

The problem for the Lions over the past decade is finding enough good enough corners at all. Dre Bly was the team's last-best free agent cornerback signing, and that was in 2003.

Chris Houston came to Detroit after the 2009 season, but after three good seasons, his production dipped in 2013 and at one point he was benched. Drayton Florence came in for one season in 2012 but was mostly injured and had a fairly unproductive season.

Eric Wright, one of the better corners to sign with Detroit in free agency, had a decent 2011 season but left for Tampa Bay following the year.

So while receiver may attract the attention and some of the drafting scorn, paying attention to what Detroit does with the guys who defend those opposing receivers could be one of the keys to the Lions' hopes in 2014.

Early 49ers free-agent primer

January, 27, 2014
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Let's take an early offseason look at the San Francisco's 49ers' pending unrestricted free agents:
    Boldin
  • WR Anquan Boldin: He is vital. He is 33, so he may not get much interest. The 49ers might be his best fit.

    Percentage of return: 75
  • CB Tarell Brown: The cornerback market was started last year and many starting-quality cornerbacks had to settle for less than they probably wanted. If that happens again, it could lead Brown back to the 49ers.

    Percentage of return: 55
  • K Phil Dawson: The 49ers love Dawson and he loves them. There is no reason for him not to return.

    Percentage of return: 90
  • RB Anthony Dixon: Dixon is versatile and he fills a lot of roles. But that could make him attractive to other teams.

    Percentage of return: 30
  • OL Jonathan Goodwin: He is 35. He is thinking about retirement, but he would also be willing to return if the 49ers wanted him back for another year or so.

    Percentage of return: 45
  • WR Mario Manningham: The oft-injured receiver is likely not be on the 49ers' radar.

    Percentage of return: 5
  • QB Colt McCoy: The 49ers will likely look for an upgrade but could always circle back to McCoy.

    Percentage of return: 25
  • WR Kassim Osgood: A special teams star. I'm sure the 49ers would like him back.

    Percentage of return: 60
  • Whitner
  • S Donte Whitner: This is a tough one. The 49ers need him, but if he gets pricey it may be difficult for them to keep him.

    Percentage of return: 60
  • CB Eric Wright: The 49ers had high hopes for Wright, but the team didn't seem to trust him. He finished the season on the inactive list.

    Percentage of return: 10
SEATTLE -- As expected, the San Francisco 49ers are going to be in excellent health for the start of Sunday's NFC championship at Seattle.

The team's two injury question marks -- cornerback Carlos Rogers and fullback Will Tukuafu -- are active and will play. Rogers missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. Tukuafu missed most of the Carolina game with a knee injury.

Rogers will be the nickel cornerback. Perrish Cox, who played well when Rogers was out, will be the fourth cornerback.

Veteran Eric Wright is inactive because Rogers is active and because Cox beat him out two weeks ago. The 49ers expected more from Wright this season, but they see the younger Cox as a more reliable option.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Carlos Rogers is missing practice for the fifth straight practice with a hamstring injury.

Rogers
The San Francisco 49ers cornerback said Thursday that he hopes to play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. However, he must practice if he is going to play. San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he doesn’t expect Rogers to play against the Panthers if he doesn’t practice. That means Rogers must practice Friday before the 49ers fly to North Carolina.

Rogers has been running this week.

“I have to be smart,” he said. “I don’t know if I will be ready, but I am trying.”

All indications are that if Rogers can’t play, Perrish Cox will be the nickel cornerback. He played virtually the entire game at Green Bay over veteran Eric Wright. Fangio said the team went with Cox, who was signed earlier in the week, because he had a better week of practice than Wright.

Rotational defensive tackle DeMarcus Dobbs (knee) returned to practice after missing Wednesday’s session.

In other 49ers notes:

Fangio said he has had no contact with any teams about a head-coaching job. ESPN reported that the Redskins were interested in him. However, they hired Jay Gruden on Thursday.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman called talk that he interviewed for the Penn State job “speculation.” The school reportedly will hire Vanderbilt coach James Franklin. Roman’s name has also been attached to the open Minnesota Vikings job.

In an Insider piece, Matt Williamson thinks 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick could be a weak link at Carolina. He certainly was the last time these two teams played. But will it happen again?

ESPN Stats & Information has a matchup to watch in the game.

49ers enjoying strong health

January, 8, 2014
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- While cornerback Carlos Rogers' hamstring injury continues to linger, the San Francisco 49ers head into their NFC divisional playoff game at Carolina in solid overall health.

Earlier Wednesday, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he liked his team’s overall health going into the game and the team's injury report confirmed the 49ers are in solid shape.

The following San Francisco players missed practice Wednesday: defensive tackle Demarcus Dobbs (knee, shoulder), center Jonathan Goodwin (not injury related), defensive tackle Justin Smith (shoulder) and Rogers.

Smith and Goodwin routinely don’t practice on Wednesdays and Dobbs is a backup. If Rogers, who didn’t play at Green Bay, can’t play Sunday, Perrish Cox and Eric Wright will play the nickel spot for him.

In other 49ers notes:

Harbaugh said this when asked to explain how much fun he’s having coaching in the playoffs: “This is as much fun as you can possibly have in football and as much fun as you can have in life, yeah.”

Harbaugh said he thought the 49ers matched up well physically against the tough-and-tumble Panthers in Carolina’s 10-9 win in San Francisco on Nov. 10.

Harbaugh complemented the Panthers' defensive front seven by saying it was the most talented group the 49ers have played this season.
Going into their wild-card game at Green Bay, there were genuine concerns about the secondary of the San Francisco 49ers.

Rogers
After the depleted unit played well, keeping Aaron Rodgers from engineering an upset, prospects for Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game at Carolina look much more promising.

It appears cornerback Carlos Rogers is on schedule to play at Carolina. He missed the Green Bay game with a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 17 at Arizona. Rogers told reporters Tuesday he's been running and feels on pace to play.

If Rogers plays, that means Perrish Cox will drop to the dime. Cox, signed last week, was the surprise call at nickel against Green Bay. He played nearly the entire game and did well, especially considering he was unemployed the week before. Cox was given the call over veteran Eric Wright.

Wright was expected to be the nickel with Rogers out. But there were indications that the team wasn't quite ready for Wright to play. He could bounce back and play some nickel moving forward.

Regardless, with a healthy Rogers and confidence in Cox, the 49ers head forward in the playoffs with renewed strength at the position.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The San Francisco 49ers are headed to Green Bay on Friday with questions at cornerback -- as there has been all week.

The team listed Carlos Rogers and his replacement, Eric Wright, as questionable to play in Sunday's wild-card game. Both players have hamstring injuries. It appears Wright may have a better chance of playing than Rogers.

Wright was injured in practice Thursday but returned Friday. Rogers missed practice all week after getting hurt Sunday at Arizona. His optimism waned as the week went on.

Tarell Brown and newly signed Perrish Cox will play extensively along with Tramaine Brock. So Wright will be needed. Barring a setback, he should be able to play.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Thursday, there was optimism that cornerback Carlos Rogers would practice in preparation for Sunday’s playoff game against Green Bay.

Rogers
San Francisco 49ers' defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thursday that the thought was Rogers would try to practice. However, during the short window while the media was able to watch, Rogers was working on a side field with a member of the strength team, and was not wearing practice clothes.

Rogers suffered a hamstring injury Sunday at Arizona. Both Rogers and Fangio said this week that the injury is not bad as initially thought.

A decision on Rogers’ availability might not happen until Sunday. Possible replacements include Eric Wright, Tarell Brown and Perrish Cox.

49ers have questions at cornerback

December, 30, 2013
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There is potential flux for the San Francisco 49ers at cornerback -- just in time to face Aaron Rodgers in an elimination game.

Rogers
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday that Eric Wright will play for Carlos Rogers if Rodgers can't play Sunday at Green Bay in a wild-card playoff game. Rogers suffered a hamstring injury late in the win over Arizona on Sunday. He had an MRI on Monday and Harbaugh offered no details. However, Rogers said Sunday he felt fine and didn't think the injury was serious.

The 49ers added cornerback Perrish Cox on Monday to complete the 53-man roster. He filled the spot vacated when receiver Mario Manningham was put on injured reserve Friday. Harbaugh said the plan was to sign Cox before Rogers was injured.

The 49ers' pass defense has struggled in the past two games allowing 755 combined passing yards to Atlanta and Arizona. Much of those yards came late. Harbaugh indicated Monday he wasn't worried about the issue.

If Wright has to play for Rogers, the 49ers have faith. He has been an NFL starter and he's played well in a reserve role this season. The 49ers are deep at the position. Cox can play in dime situations, which often may be the case against the Packers.

The 49ers will certainly be in better shape if Rogers can play, but they can probably withstand the loss if he can't play. Even if Rogers' injury is not serious, he'd probably rest some this week during practice because hamstrings easily aggravate.

Rapid Reaction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

December, 15, 2013
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TAMPA, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 33-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

What it means: Another season of double-digit losses for a franchise that has had way too many of them. The Bucs are 4-10, but this one is especially painful because the Bucs squandered a chance to beat a good team for their fourth consecutive victory at Raymond James Stadium. Had that happened, coach Greg Schiano might have saved his job. Now, Schiano is firmly on the hot seat with two road games (St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints) remaining.

Drive of the day: After being bottled up most of the day, rookie quarterback Mike Glennon led an impressive touchdown drive that stretched from late in the third quarter until early in the fourth quarter.

Almost the play of the day: Linebacker Lavonte David appeared to have an interception return for a touchdown, but it was wiped out by an offside penalty on defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.

Ugly play of the day: The Bucs finally tried to get creative when they were trailing 23-14 in the fourth quarter. They attempted a reverse. But a handoff from Eric Wright to Russell Shepard was botched, and the 49ers recovered the fumble and took it in for the touchdown.

Stock watch: There were a fair number of bright spots from the Tampa Bay defense. But there was one consistent problem. The Bucs continually allowed San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick to extend plays by scrambling, and that cost the Bucs dearly.

Injury report: Safety Mark Barron suffered a hamstring injury in the second half and did not return.

What’s next: The Buccaneers play at St. Louis on Sunday.

49ers' future at CB looking clearer

November, 22, 2013
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers' future at cornerback began to take shape Friday night.

Brock
The team agreed to four-year contract extension with Tramaine Brock, who was set to be a free agent in 2014. Brock will be paid $16 million, with $7 million guaranteed.

While it looks as if Brock, 25, will be a long-term starter, it is unclear what the rest of the unit will look like next season.

The current starters are Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown. Rogers will be 33 next year and is set to make $6 million. The 49ers could consider releasing him or asking him to take a pay cut. Brown is set to be a free agent, although there was a report last month that the team was close to re-signing him. General manager Trent Baalke said San Francisco would like to keep him, but with Brock signed there are no guarantees.

But there is the possibility Brock and Brown will be the starters next year.

A wild card is veteran Eric Wright. He was signed this year and made his 49ers debut last week. The team likes him and he could be in the mix, but he signed a one-year deal. The team will also have Chris Culliver, who's out this season with a torn ACL. He is a solid player, although his contract is up after next season.

The 49ers could also use an early draft pick on a cornerback. The future of this position is still up in the air, but there is now some clarity with the Brock deal.

49ers getting major reinforcements

November, 6, 2013
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers' practice field is an amazingly talented place these days.

In what has a chance to be one of the more compelling stories in the NFL in the second half, the 49ers are getting several reinforcements.

The 49ers (6-2) had their bye in Week 9 following a five-game winning streak, and the off week was not a quiet one.

[+] EnlargeAldon Smith
AP Photo/Greg TrottAldon Smith, who has 38 sacks since entering the NFL in 2011, has been activated by the 49ers.
They activated four players who could have an impact: pass-rusher Aldon Smith, receiver Mario Manningham, cornerback Eric Wright and rookie defensive lineman Tank Carradine. Also, standout receiver Michael Crabtree was cleared to practice this week, and barring a setback from a torn Achilles, he will be ready to play by the end of the month.

Has a contender ever had this type of firepower come back to a team for the stretch run? Barring setbacks, they will all have major roles. The additions will deepen every aspect of a team that was already hot, one that outscored its opponents by a combined score of 174-61 during its win streak.

Linebacker Ahmad Brooks said Tuesday it's special to get all the players back and that it will allow the team to hit its stride when it counts most.

“I think San Francisco has weathered the storm, and right now, they would be my pick to come out of the NFC,” ESPN analyst Matt Williamson said.

Williamson and fellow ESPN analyst Louis Riddick said the key additions will be the receivers and Smith. Getting more out of the receiving crew beyond Anquan Boldin is paramount.

“Most importantly, the big-play weapons on the outside,” Riddick said. “[It's] going to make them more multiple in what they can do, which they will need ultimately to deal with the divisional nemesis Seattle.”

Smith brings serious pass-rush presence. His 38 sacks since entering the league in 2011 is second in the NFL.

ESPN analyst Gary Horton said the additions will have an effect on the entire team.

“It makes them so deep,” Horton said. “Their 45th-53rd players are strong. You won't see that around the league, but that's what you have in San Francisco.”

Asomugha's decline remarkable

November, 4, 2013
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Two years after the summer of Nnamdi, the former star free agent finds himself unemployed for the second time in 2013.

Asomugha
In move that was expected, the San Francisco 49ers cut Nnamdi Asomugha on Monday and activated Eric Wright.

Asomugha had been a healthy scratch the past three games, and there was little reason to keep a 32-year-old cornerback who hasn't played well or helped on special teams. Asomugha played the first three games of this season for the 49ers and before suffering a knee injury. Tramaine Brock, has been excellent in Asomugha’s place. With Wright now activated, Asomugha was released.

Monday was a continuation of Asomugha's career downward spiral. Two years ago, Asomugha was the free-agent prize after the NFL lockout ended. The Eagles outbid several teams to sign him away from Oakland, where he had been one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL. Asomugha's play dipped dramatically after he signed with the Eagles, who parted ways with him in the offseason.

The 49ers were looking for veteran depth when they signed Asomugha to a one-year, $1.35 million deal. Now, they will hope he is claimed Tuesday so the remaining value of his contract is taken on by another team. Asomugha could draw interest from a contender that needs depth at cornerback.

Asomugha was on his way to being on a winning team for the first time in his 11-year NFL career. The 49ers are 6-2, but they will head down the stretch run without Asomugha.

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