One day after signing a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers, former All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was unable to say what went wrong the last two years in Philadelphia, but thinks being back in the Bay Area may rejuvenate his career. "I think there were a number of reasons it ultimately didn't work out," Asomugha said Wednesday in a telephone conference call from the team's headquarters in Santa Clara. "I tried my hardest for it to work out. I believed right up until the end that it would work out so badly.
"I wanted to win in Philadelphia. I wanted to be great in Philadelphia. ... I wanted everything to work out, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way."
Asomugha was a star safety at Cal before the Oakland Raiders drafted him in the first round in 2003. He became a starting cornerback in 2005 and was quickly ranked as one of the top shutdown coverage men in the NFL. In 2006 his eight interceptions was tied for second in the NFL.
By 2009 Asomugha signed a complex contract with the Raiders that reportedly made him the highest paid defensive back in NFL history. It included $28.5 million in the first two years that was guaranteed. If the Raiders wanted to keep him the third year, they would need to pay the average of the top' five highest paid quarterbacks, about $16.875 million. If the Raiders did not want to pay that, then he would become a free agent because the Raiders did not have the ability to franchise him that year.
So it was in July of 2011 Asomugha went to the Philadelphia Eagles as an unrestricted free agent. His deal was reported to be for five years, $60 million, including at least $25 million guaranteed. After disappointing seasons in 2011 and 2012, the Eagles released Asomugha on March 12. The Eagles will take a significant salary cap hit and still owe him $4 million this year no matter which team he joined.
And that team will be the 49ers, who signed him to a one year deal reportedly worth $1.35 million and laden with incentives.
"It definitely feels good being back here," Asomugha said. "Having started here in college, the familiarity. ... I don't have to acclimate to a new culture or surroundings. The focus can be on football, so that's a beautiful thing."
He was asked if, at 31, he needs to prove himself all over again at this stage of his career and if he will have a chip on his shoulder going into this season. He said yes to both counts.
"I don't think the stage in my career matters as much," he said. "I don't think there's been a season where I've gone in that I didn't have something to prove. I've had a chip on my shoulder every season I've played. I think it's bigger this year because of the adversity I went through in Philadelphia.
"It's just always been a part of my game. Coming in and showing what I can do and now being able to be here and start fresh, I think it's a great opportunity. ... I just want the best. I just want to have fun, that's the attitude I am coming in with. I want to win. I want to be the best I can possibly be."