Nnamdi Asomugha pays 49ers a visit, Ricky Jean Francois signs with Colts
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 8:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 8:59 p.m.
SANTA CLARA — Thursday's visits by cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and safety Louis Delmas underscored the 49ers' intent on strengthening their pass defense.
Of course, that was the same interpretation a day earlier when the 49ers hosted veteran defensive back Charles Woodson.
“I'm just waiting on the Niners to get back to me,” Woodson's agent, Carl Poston, told 95.7 The Game. “It's just a matter as to what they want to do.”
Thus it appears the 49ers are both bargain shopping and playing the field, which may or may not include longtime Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed, who got heavily recruited Thursday by the Houston Texans.
The 49ers defense lost a player in free agency for the third time in three days when Ricky Jean Francois, their top reserve linemen, struck a four-year, $22 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts.
That makes six players to leave the 49ers since their Super Bowl loss: quarterback Alex Smith, kicker David Akers, safety Dashon Goldson, tight end Delanie Walker, nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and Jean Francois. Six others are unrestricted free agents, including wide receiver Randy Moss and return specialist Ted Ginn Jr. Asomugha's unfilled quest to play on a winning team has brought him back to the Bay Area for at least Thursday's visit to the 49ers.
Asomugha, a 10-year veteran cornerback, has yet to enjoy a winning season, including eight with the Raiders and the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. Even Asomugha's time at Cal were bathed in defeat: 3-8 in 2000, 1-10 in 2001, 7-5 in 2002.
Just like the start of his Raiders tenure in 2003, Asomugha would be joining a franchise that is coming off a Super Bowl loss, although the 49ers appear in much stronger shape than the Raiders a decade ago.
New Eagles coach Chip Kelly opted to cut ties with Asomugha on Tuesday, only two seasons after he signed a five-year, $60 million deal. Before Asomugha signed that deal, the 49ers pursued him, and they ended up signing Carlos Rogers to a one-year deal.
Asomugha tallied just four interceptions in his two seasons with the Eagles after earning Pro Bowl honors his final three years with the Raiders, who drafted him 31st overall in 2003.
(That's the same draft slot the 49ers hold in next month's draft.)
Last season, Asomugha gave up five touchdowns, intercepted one pass and allowed more than 66 percent of passes his way to be completed, according to ProFootballFocus.com. He allowed 15.9 yards per catch and a 120.6 passer rating, which was second-worst among cornerbacks.
Asomugha's 6-foot-3 frame would present a different look to the 49ers' secondary, in which none of their cornerbacks are taller than 6-feet. The 49ers ranked fourth in passing yards allowed during the regular season, but their average jumped from 200.2 yards per game to 306.0 in three playoff contests.
That unit became in more need of a veteran catalyst once Goldson signed Wednesday with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Woodson left town Thursday without brokering a deal, nor did the 49ers exchange contract figures with Poston, who expected the 49ers to host other free agents and possibly make a move by the weekend.
“I'm just waiting on the Niners to get back to me. ... It's just a matter as to what they want to do,” Poston said. “If the numbers are right, I'm assuming Charles would want to pull the trigger with the 49ers. The ball's in their court in one regard.” Woodson played his first eight seasons with the Raiders, and the last seven with the Packers. Rather than retire, Woodson is looking to play for a contender, and the 49ers fit that bill.
“He's made it very clear he wants to go to a contender where he can make a difference and win another Super Bowl ring,” Poston said of Woodson, who won his one and only ring three years ago with the Green Bay Packers.
A younger option in the secondary would be Delmas, who's played his first four seasons with the Detroit Lions. Delmas missed 13 games the past two seasons with knee troubles, including half of last season when the Lions went 4-12.
Jean Francois blossomed into a versatile lineman in four seasons since getting drafted in the seventh round out of LSU. He started three games last season, including the final two of the regular season in place of an injured Justin Smith.
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