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Grading San Francisco 49ers' Signing of Nnamdi Asomugha

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystApril 2, 2013

Grading San Francisco 49ers' Signing of Nnamdi Asomugha

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    Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

    Just two years ago, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was considered one of the best players in the National Football League at his position.

    The Philadelphia Eagles paid him as such, signing Asomugha to a five-year, $60 million contract that included $25 million in guaranteed money.

    Two disastrous seasons later, the Eagles cut bait on "Alphabet," who will try to resurrect his NFL career in San Francisco after agreeing to a one-year contract with the 49ers, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

    Let's take a look at how the arrival of Asomugha affects the defending NFC champions.

Fit: Fills a Need

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    The San Francisco 49ers don't have a lot of holes, especially on defense.

    However, despite a top-five pass defense in 2012, they were exposed in the secondary, first by the Atlanta Falcons and then the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs.

    Those playoff games showed that San Francisco's defense could be exploited and made cornerback a priority for the team in the offseason.

    Asomugha will immediately upgrade that secondary, sliding into a third corner role covering outside receivers in nickel and dime sets, according to Brian McIntyre of Yahoo! Sports. How big that improvement is will depend on which Asomugha the 49ers get. Nevertheless, San Francisco addressed one of the few needs the team has.

    Grade: A-

Talent: The $64 Question

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    As I said earlier, a few years ago, Nnamdi Asomugha was considered one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

    Then he got to Philadelphia, and to say the bottom fell out doesn't do his free-fall justice.

    In each of the past two seasons, Asomugha ranked outside the top 80 players at his position, according to Pro Football Focus. In 2012, Asomugha allowed a mind-boggling 120.6 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks throwing in his direction.

    Granted, age may have had something to do with the 31-year-old's drop in play, but so did the Eagles' misuse of Asomugha's talents. In 2011, Philadelphia played Asomugha in the slot a significant amount, negating his ability to use the sideline to his advantage, a specialty of his.

    The team also frequently employed him in zone coverages in both of his seasons in Philly, all but wiping out the edge his length gives him when jamming opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage.

    This isn't to say that Asomugha is going to magically revert back to the player who allowed only 16 catches over the entire 2008 season, but assuming his confidence hasn't been completely obliterated, he's a better player than he showed with the Eagles.

    Grade: B-

Price: A Bargain Deal

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    Compared to what the Philadelphia Eagles paid (and are still paying to the tune of $4 million in 2013) Asomugha, the 49ers got a pretty good deal.

    As in pennies on the dollar good.

    Per Adam Schefter, Asomugha's contract will pay him $1.35 million in 2013. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the 11th-year pro can earn another $1.65 million in incentives.

    None of that money is guaranteed, and according to Schefter, that was at Asomugha's request.

    Only $1.35 million in non-guaranteed money for a four-time All-Pro? That'll work.

    Grade: A

Risk: What Risk?

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    If there's a risk to this deal, then I'd like to see it.

    Really, I'm curious.

    As I stated on the previous slide, none of Asomugha's 2013 salary is guaranteed. None. Zero. Not a dime. If he comes to training camp and is terrible, the 49ers can just cut bait and move on.

    All the team will be out is some time, a fistful of mouth guards and some of that tape it uses to change player names on lockers.

    Grade: A

Overall: No Risk/High Reward

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    Overall, it's very hard to look at this as anything other than a very shrewd signing by the San Francisco 49ers. If it doesn't work out, then the team can simply release Asomugha with no muss, no fuss and no cap hit.

    Thank Philadelphia for the $4 million safety net that motivated him to forgo any guaranteed money in lieu of a chance to win.

    If things do work out, then at the very least, the 49ers will have a very good third cornerback for $3 million, which isn't a high price tag by any stretch.

    The rich get richer.

    Grade: A-

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