When the 49ers signed cornerback Perrish Cox last week, he figured he'd play perhaps a handful of snaps against the Packers and serve as insurance if one of the other cornerbacks had to leave the game with an injury.
As it turns out, Cox started Sunday's game and was on the field for all but one defensive play - 62 total -- the most he's played in a non-preseason game since he was a rookie with the Denver Broncos in 2010. "I had no clue at all," Cox said Tuesday. "I actually didn't know I'd be starting the nickel until right before the game. I had no clue. It was fun, though."
Perhaps Cox should have expected another sharp turn on the rollercoaster he's been riding the last two months.
It started in early November when the 49ers cut him in an effort to create roster space for, among others, fellow cornerback Eric Wright. He was then signed and cut by the Seahawks, welcomed a baby girl, Carter, into the world, and was signed and cut again by Seattle.
When the Seahawks let him go a second time, the 49ers didn't waste time snapping him up. Cox had played in the team's "dime" defense in previous seasons, and he had his most extensive outing as a 49er against the Packers in that package during the opening game of the 2012 season. Cox said he thought that would be his role Sunday.
But with Carlos Rogers dealing with a hamstring issue and with Wright tweaking his own hamstring in practice last week, the coaching staff made Cox their nickel cornerback, a far more demanding role. He ended up playing 98 percent of the team's snaps and found himself typically matched against one of two of Aaron Rodgers' favorite targets, receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
As for Wright, he said he was ready to play against the Packers and that he didn't know why he didn't get any defensive snaps in Green Bay. Wright ended up playing five snaps on special teams. "I got warmed up and ready as if I was going to play and ... was ready to go," Wright said.
He agreed, however, that his hamstring may have played a role in the coaches' decision, especially given the five-degree temperatures at kickoff. "Obviously when you have a hamstring injury it's something that's hard to get warm and stay warm," he said.
Rogers, meanwhile, was optimistic he'd be able to play against Carolina. The forecast certainly will be more accommodating for someone dealing with a muscle strain with forecasts calling for temperatures in the mid 60s.
"I think so," Rogers said when asked if he's be ready for the Panthers. "I've been running." If he can't play, Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock would start on the outside and Cox likely would resume the prominent role as the nickel back.
Has Cox, released three times this year, reflected on his tumultuous season? "That runs through my mind all the time," he said. "I tell everybody - it's the craziest two months I've been through in my life."
-- Matt Barrows