Nnamdi Asomugha to be the Charles Woodson of the 49ers?


Unless the NFL lockout has so offended your senses that you’ve completely ignored anything football related the last three months you’re well aware of all the Nnamdi Asomugha speculation. Everyday another round of speculation emerges in which football starved writers muse over which team will make the biggest push.

As he’s the best corner in all of football and the most attractive free agent on the market, Asomugha’s services are sure to cause a bidding war. Since teams aren’t permitted to discuss any football business that leaves a lot of room for rampant rumors.

For the most part we’ve been hearing the same team names time and time again. The Eagles, Texans, Cowboys and Lions are among the most mentioned when it comes to contenders in the Nnamdi sweepstakes.

Then there’s the wildcard.

ESPN’s Mike Sando offered the San Francisco 49ers as a potential suitor. As if Aso going from the East Bay to The City isn’t enough to make you curse the football gods, he goes one step further to predict how Nnamdi might perform as a 9er.

Asomugha turned 30 recently, so age could become a concern. But I also think Asomugha fits the Woodson profile closely enough to remain an effective defensive back as he ages, whether at corner or safety or a combination of the two. The NFL lists Asomugha at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, an inch taller and eight pounds heavier that Woodson. Woodson spent eight seasons with Oakland, collecting only one pick in each of his final two seasons there, before reemerging as an interception machine after moving to Green Bay. Asomugha has one pick in each of his last three seasons with Oakland. What’s to say he couldn’t return to his ball-hawking ways elsewhere?

It’s been difficult enough to come to grips with the prospects of the Raiders being without Nnamdi. To think he could cross the Bay is a stab in the back. But to then have to go through another Woodson scenario where a prized player goes from great to Hall of Fame worthy would just be cruel and unusual.

Now let’s get something clear. Woodson and Asomugha are very different with regards to their production as Raiders. Woodson’s career took a downturn in Oakland due to nagging injuries and a salty attitude. Asomaugh’s production has dipped because he’s simply ignored on the football field.

Quarterbacks treat Nnamdi like Medusa and just don’t even look in his direction. If he suddenly becomes some ball hawk it is only because opposing offenses become willing to risk going at him.

What does make for a frustrating proposition would be if another team brought in Nnamdi and turned him loose in more creative ways than the Raiders with their draw-it-up in the dirt defense. This is where the Woodson comparison becomes plausible.

Al Davis will never change his defensive philosophy. As great as Asomugha has become as a Raider he’s never been given the freedom to be all he can. Last season against the Arizona Cardinals the Raiders finally unleashed the beast allowing Aso to stalk Larry Fitzgerald all over Phoenix. The results were astounding. Unfortunately it was one of the few instances Oakland let Nnamdi loose.

Asomugha is usually shackled to one side of the field. On occasion he’ll line up in different areas just to keep QBs honest but overall Nnamdi remains one of the more underutilized talents in all of sports.

Since this is all highly speculative there is no reason to get worked up. While the thought of Asomugha crossing the Bay is unimaginable it is also highly unlikely. Sando himself even admits that near the top of his piece.

But how likely are the 49ers — ever confident in their personnel if they could only settle on the right coach/quarterback combination — to break from their recent offseason restraint? Not very, it seems, and recent events validate that feeling.

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Tags: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Charles Woodson Larry Fitzgerald Nnamdi Asomugha