49ers' Asomugha feels he's making progress

Published: Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 - 6:49 am

SANTA CLARA – Nnamdi Asomugha said Sunday that every older cornerback inevitably starts to lose the speed, quickness and skills that carried him early in his career.

But he's certain he's not at that stage yet.

When he watches film of himself from recent practices and Thursday's game, Asomugha said he's been pleased by what he sees and encouraged that the last two lousy years in Philadelphia were an anomaly.

"I've been out there making plays and doing a lot of the things that I know I can do," the 32-year-old cornerback said. "So my confidence is in a good place."

That assessment was different than the one defensive coordinator Vic Fangio gave last week when he said the "jury was still out" on Asomugha.

"He's had some good days out here and some days where you weren't sure if he was going to still have it," Fangio said. "I think we're kind of in between with him right now. Hopefully he'll be able to still have some gas left in his tank to go out there and play like he did prior to going to Philadelphia."

Asomugha, who is perhaps the most reserved player on the team, wasn't rattled by the tepid review. He said outside criticism is never going to be as intense as what he gives himself.

"I'm highly critical of myself – highly, highly critical of myself," he said. "So there's not much that someone else might say that makes me feel like I need to be motivated in a different way. Like I said, I'm a self-motivated guy. And I'm probably saying worse (things) than the next guy's saying anyway."

Like most of the 49ers' defensive players, Asomugha had a strong game against the Denver Broncos on Thursday. Playing with the second-string unit, he had two jarring tackles on wide receivers and also was not timid about diving into the pile on running plays. With Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock sitting out recent practices, Asomugha has served as the starting cornerback alongside Carlos Rogers.

He acknowledged that the two seasons in Philadelphia shook his confidence.

Asomugha was the biggest name in free agency in 2011, and the one-time Raider signed a five-year deal worth $60 million. He and the Eagles' defense faltered from the start, and Asomugha was a particular liability on deep throws when matched against speedy receivers.

He signed a no-frills, one-year deal with San Francisco, determined to bounce back. And so far, he said, he's on the right course.

"I feel great," Asomugha said. "It's looking, you know, good. And it's encouraging. Not (because of) the age that I am but what I've been through. There are moments there along the way where I need to see some of that progress just for self encouragement. I've seen it."

As for Fangio's comments, Asomugha wondered whether the coach was making sure he didn't begin to ease off in practice the way some veterans might.

Inside the meeting room, he said, the reviews have been more positive.

"This isn't a group that will yell at you and curse you out if something's going on," he said of the 49ers' coaching staff. "… I've been telling guys that's the thing I love most about this coaching staff, is the positive reinforcement and encouragement."

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.

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