49ers' Eric Wright set for return to Tampa

  • San Francisco 49ers cornerback Eric Wright, bottom, celebrates his last-second interception against the Seattle Seahawks with teammate Eric Reid at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. The 49ers win, 19-17. (John Lok/Seattle Times/MCT)

Wright has stepped up for the 49ers when they needed him. His return from an eight-week stay to start the season on the reserve/non-football injury list came just a few weeks before San Francisco lost starting right cornerback Tarell Brown to a rib injury that has sidelined Brown for the past three games.

Wright has moved into the regular nickel back role for a defense that has extra defensive backs on the field more often than not. He had a team-high two passes-defensed against the Seahawks, playing a key role in a defense that limited Seattle and quarterback Russell Wilson to 178 net yards passing.

"He has been getting better and better, which is what you would expect that would naturally come with more practice time and more playing time," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "He's been improving, and we have high hopes for him the rest of the season and in the future."

Wright had to wait patiently to get himself back in that position following a stretch that saw him fall from grace after signing a five-year, $37.5 million deal as a free agent with the Buccaneers in 2012.

Wright served a four-game suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, and the Buccaneers traded him to the 49ers for a conditional draft pick in July. But Wright failed his physical with San Francisco and the deal was voided.

The Bucs subsequently released him.

It was later revealed that Wright had been arrested for suspicion of DUI in Los Angeles on July 12. He also had been arrested for DUI in 2012, but those charges were later dropped.

Undeterred, the 49ers signed Wright to a one-year deal on Aug. 8. He was promptly placed on the NFI/Illness list, where he remained throughout training camp before he was placed on the Reserve/NFI list at the end of the month.

"That's difficult for anybody that's been playing in the league six years and starting in the league six years," said Wright, who started 71 games during his first five NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions.

But the 49ers had a plan for Wright, and he worked hard to get back on the field and overcome his personal issues.

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