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49ers notes: Niners sign Eric Wright to help at cornerback

Published: Friday, Aug. 9, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6C
Last Modified: Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 - 8:05 am

SAN FRANCISCO – With questions looming at cornerback this year and especially next season and beyond, the 49ers on Thursday signed troubled cornerback Eric Wright to a one-year deal.

Wright, who failed a physical with the team last month, was placed on the non-football injury list. He'll count against the 49ers' 90-man offseason roster, but if he's still on the list when the regular-season begins, he will not count against the 53-man limit.

The 49ers released undrafted cornerback Lowell Rose to make room. In a statement, general manager Trent Baalke said Wright, 28, is "currently tending to a personal matter and he will join the team as soon as possible."

The 49ers initially traded a late-round draft pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Wright on July 19. Three days later, however, Wright failed a physical, which voided the trade. The Buccaneers, who had grown weary of the cornerback's off-the-field transgressions, waived Wright and he became a free agent.

Wright is facing possible DUI charges after he was arrested in Los Angeles last month. A hearing on the matter had been scheduled for Wednesday, but it was postponed. That postponement was seen as an indication that the L.A. City Attorney's office may not charge Wright, which is what happened after Wright was arrested for a separate DUI last year in Los Angeles.

Last month, Baalke made it clear that the 49ers initially did not sign Wright because of the failed physical and not because of the recent arrest.

"I'd ask you guys to do your due diligence as well and find out the facts surrounding it," said Baalke, who did not divulge those facts. "And I think when you did that, that particular incident in and of itself – certainly we were aware of it, certainly it's a red flag. But I don't think what's being reported is really the facts around it."

The Los Angeles Police Department only would say that Wright was arrested for misdemeanor DUI after he was pulled over at the corner of 30th Street and Crenshaw at 5:15 p.m. on July 12.

Wright also was suspended for four games last season for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing substances. Wright later said he tested positive for Adderall.

If a player remains on the non-football injury list when the regular season begins, he cannot practice or play for the first six weeks. After Week 6 and continuing through Week 11, there's a three-week window during which he can join practice. If the 49ers feel the player is healthy at that point, he can be moved to the active, 53-man roster.

Since July 22 when Wright failed the physical, the 49ers suffered a major loss at cornerback. Chris Culliver, who played 67 percent of the team's defensive snaps last season, went down because of an ACL injury and will be lost for the season. Tramaine Brock has taken over Culliver's role as No. 3 cornerback.

There also are big questions about the position for next year.

Brock, Wright, Tarell Brown, Nnamdi Asomugha and Perrish Cox will be free agents in March, while Carlos Rogers will have a very high salary cap figure. The team must make big decisions on the future of that position.

Et cetera – Colt McCoy, who served as the No. 2 quarterback Thursday in the preseason opener against the Denver Broncos, injured his shoulder in the second quarter and did not return to the game.

• Defensive starters Justin Smith (finger) and Patrick Willis (hand) did not play. They were replaced by Demarcus Dobbs and Michael Wilhoite, respectively.

• Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie watched the game from the press box. Why? The 49ers and Broncos are among the Super Bowl favorites, and both teams will have to cut good players before the season starts.

Read Matthew Barrows' blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320. Follow him on Twitter @mattbarrows.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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