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April 4, 2013
Chip happens: 49ers reel in another motivated free agent

Nnamdi.jpg

No, the situation isn't exactly the same and the personalties involved are entirely different. But the 49ers acquisition of Nnamdi Asomugha this weeks feels a lot like their signing of Randy Moss a year ago.

Both players are former stars in their 30s who had all sorts of questions swirling about them and who felt like they had something to prove. "I've had a chip on my shoulder every year that I've played," Asomugha said Wednesday. "It's obviously bigger this year because of the adversity I went through in Philadelphia, but it's always been a part of my game."

More to the point, the 49ers have become the team players like Moss and Asomugha want to join, and that gives the 49ers leverage. Moss last year signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal. Asomugha's is even more low risk. He'll make $1.35 million in base salary if he makes the team. If he doesn't, the 49ers won't owe him anything.

We can argue about Moss' impact last season. He caught 28 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns. What's beyond debate is that the 49ers ended up needing him. Injuries to Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams, as well as A.J. Jenkins' slow development, thrust Moss into the starting lineup late in the season and throughout the playoffs.

The 49ers, meanwhile, likely will retain their five top cornerbacks from last season (Tramaine Brock is a restricted free agent who has been tendered). But a team, especially one that expects to go deep into the playoffs, never can have too many quality cornerbacks.

Asomugha is two years removed from his last pro bowl season, and by all accounts he's lost a step from from his glory days with the Raiders. But he's motivated and low-risk, and that's precisely the type of free agent the 49ers like the most.

-- Matt Barrows



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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