49ers-#8217; secondary a work in progress

  • Perrish Cox and Donte Whitner break up a pass intended for James Jones. The San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers, 23-20, in the wild card playoff game at Lambeau Field on Sunday, January 5, 2013. (John Burgess/For The Press Democrat)

SANTA CLARA -#8212; For a guy with a bum leg, Carlos Rogers looked pretty spry as he strode across the 49ers' team parking lot Tuesday. The veteran cornerback declined to stop for interviews, other than to toss an answer over his shoulder when an Associated Press reporter asked him if he'd play against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

"I think so," Rogers said, "I've been running."

And so begins another episode of As the Secondary Turns, one of the few cliffhangers here in the land of the 49ers, a team that looks highly stable in the 2013 postseason. Rogers missed the Niners' first-round victory over the Green Bay Packers with a strained hamstring after being listed as questionable for the game.

That a player with a balky hamstring would be a game-time scratch in single-digit temperatures is no shock, nor was San Francisco's starting cornerback tandem in Rogers' absence -#8212; Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock. The surprise was Brown's replacement at nickel back. It was not Eric Wright, who had seemed like the logical candidate, but Perrish Cox, who re-signed with the 49ers on Dec. 30.

Asked whether he expected heavy playing time at Green Bay, Cox answered: "Oh, I had no clue, no clue at all. I think that's the most snaps I've played since preseason."

It certainly wasn't the way Wright, the San Francisco native, envisioned the game developing.

"Obviously it was disappointing, but playing this game you know how it goes," said Wright, a seven-year vet in his first season with the 49ers. "Sometimes things happen, and you try your best to fight through that type of adversity. I think that's what the game is all about."

Wright's adversity, like Rogers', was a tight hammy. He suffered his strain in practice last week and was also questionable for the Packers, though he insisted he could have gone.

"Yeah, I was ready to play," Wright said.

He played zero snaps on defense, though he did get in for five plays on special teams. Was it the injury that kept him on the sidelines, or did the 49ers coaching staff simply have more confidence in Cox?

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