If the title confused you, Nnamdi Asomugha isn’t dying. However, his NFL future is fixed to a ventilator.
Asomugha has been inactive for the past three weeks despite having good health. The San Francisco 49ers are undressing the four-time All-Pro in favor of Tramaine Brock and Perrish Cox and his roster spot is in jeopardy pending the activation of Eric Wright.
Asomugha began the season as the 49ers’ third cornerback, but his play was underwhelming at the time he injured his knee against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3. The veteran’s air defense has been serviceable, but he’s missed more tackles (four) than he’s made (two), according to Pro Football Focus. Brock’s knack for creating turnovers unseated Asomugha, who’s on a one-year deal, for good.
Unfortunately, it looks that Asomugha’s poor outings in Philadelphia were in fact a result of declining physical skills and not an unfamiliarity with zone schemes. The 32-year-old appears a few steps slow and his enforcement at the line of scrimmage has waned. Far too many times with the Eagles, Asomugha was beaten over the top, which forced the club to eat his hefty contract.
What’s too upsetting is how Asomugha’s steep fall from grace will likely harm his reputation as an Oakland Raider. In an age where NFL rules were tweaked to aid wide receivers, the corner made his assignments disappear. Opposing quarterbacks literally ignored Asomugha’s direction, which led to few playmaking opportunities after his 2006 banner campaign.
Following a rough start in the NFL, Asomugha seemed destined for the Hall of Fame. Al Davis made him the highest-paid cornerback in history and his five-year, $60 million deal with the Eagles in 2011 appeared to be a bargain. Then the floor collapsed.
If/when the 49ers waive Asomugha, he will likely serve as emergency depth for the rest of 2013. Next season, the 11-year pro may be forced to return to free safety, his position at Cal-Berkeley, if he hopes to make a team out of training camp. Asomugha doesn’t play special teams, which does his shrinking value no favors.
However the story ends for the California native, we should fondly remember Asomugha as a class act who selflessly gave back to the community. Along the way, he made atrocious Raiders squads watchable and brought dominance to the field rarely seen at his profession. Asomugha may end his football career where it started, which is better than what many washed up athletes can say.