Appearing on NFL Total Access today, 49ers safety Donte Whitner estimated that the 49ers used man-to-man coverage 70 percent of the time last season. That's what makes Nnamdi Asomugha a "pretty good pickup" for San Francisco, Whitner said.
"In Philly, they played a lot of zone coverage," Whitner said. "When Nnamdi was in Oakland, they played a lot of press, man-to-man; let him get up there, use his long body, length and size to cover those wide receivers. If you look at our scheme, that's what we do. We play a lot of man - probably 70 percent man. He'll get up in a lot of wide receivers' faces and have an opportunity to use our pass rush, and let those guys work for him. I believe he'll come out and have a great year with us."
The question now is how Asomugha will be worked into the 49ers defense, which struggled during the playoffs but was one of the league's best in the regular season. The secondary finished tied for third in passing yards allowed per game and mostly snuffed out long pass plays by opponents. The 49ers gave up 19 passing touchdowns during the regular season. Only six teams allowed fewer.
"We have a young corner in Chris Culliver, veteran guys in Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers, and a great defensive coordinator in Vic Fangio," Whitner said. " If (Asomugha) comes in and really learns our defense, Vic will do everything that is possible to put all of those guys on the field to make plays at the same time."
Meanwhile, former Ravens coach and current analyst Brian Billick gave high praise to the pickup, likening the 49ers' offseason moves to those of the Patriots in recent years.
"It's a brilliant pickup," he said. "Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh have become the New England Patriots of the West in the way that they strategically pick up veterans like a Nnamdi Asomugha; they've already picked up Anquan Boldin. Nnamdi Asomugha at this point in his career -- he went to Philadelphia with huge expectations and a huge contract - hard to live up to that.
"He's not coming to San Francisco with the same expectations; he can be their second corner, he can be their third corner...It's a brilliant pickup at the right price, all but renting him for one year; that seems to be what the league is doing right now. You're getting a highly motivated player. No, he's not a shutdown corner but he's certainly good enough to help the 49ers."
- Matt Barrows