Dry-witted, level-headed and a 26-year NFL coaching veteran, Vic Fangio often is the sobering voice of reason when it comes to the 49ers. And today the team's defensive coordinator pumped the brakes on how soon reinforcements like lineman Tank Carradine and cornerback Eric Wright could contribute on defense.
Both are eligible to begin practicing as early as Tuesday. But when they could join the roster, and most important help the defense, remains to be seen, Fangio said. The 49ers acquired Wright, a six-year veteran, in August. He's currently on the non-football injury/illness list, and he spends practices working out with the team's strength and conditioning staff.
"To get in shape and run with the strength coaches and the trainers and do drills is one thing, but football is another," Fangio said. "And he's learning our system in meetings. But learning it in a meeting and executing it on the field are two different things. "
He said the issue is more pronounced for Carradine, a second-round pick, and for nose tackle Quinton Dial, a fifth-round selection. Fangio said that in a normal circumstance rookies would get up to speed with an NFL defense first in OTAs practices, then in training camp then the preseason.
"So here we are right dead in the middle of the regular season and these guys have missed all those steps," Fangio said, "So when they're ready, and I have no idea when that'll be, they'll place them. We'll activate them and play them. But until then I think it'd be a mistake to put them out there too early."
The 49ers currently have six cornerbacks on the 53-man roster. When Wright eventually is activated, the team likely will have to release one of those cornerbacks. Fangio noted that Nnamdi Asomugha, who had been battling a knee injury, was healthy enough to play Sunday against the Texans but was not activated for the game. Instead, Tramaine Brock assumed the role of No. 3 cornerback, finished with two interceptions and was named the NFC's defensive player of the week.
-- Matt Barrows