It is not altogether surprising to read that the San Francisco 49ers elected to waive cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha on Monday. We were expecting the news for quite a while, especially due to the fact that Eric Wright was rejoining the team and Nnamdi had been, well, a bit lackluster in his showings this season. Throw in the fact that Tramaine Brock has decided to go all sorts of awesome and it really isn't surprising at all.
Fooch's note: Nnamdi cleared waivers
While I am bummed for the man, I think this was the best move for the team. To demonstrate my point, I thought we could take a quick look at his statistics from the first three games in which he played. Just a warning, small sample size problems abound here. Three games isn't sufficient to say "this is the type of player Nnamdi is" or "this is how he will be going forward." I simply want to review what he did as a 49er.
The area in which Mr. Asomugha struggled most was in run support. In his three games, in which he played a total of 139 snaps, Nnamdi had two tackles according to Pro-Football-Reference and three according to Pro Football Focus. In the same timeframe, however, he had four missed tackles. Ouch. According to PFF's Combined Tackle Efficiency stat (which is a comparison of tackles a CB attempts to his missed tackles, Asomugha was the third worst in the league at his position (again, though, this suffers from the small sample size gremlins, he likely isn't that bad of a tackler...). Again, ouch.
In terms of Asomugha's pass defense, it was nowhere nearly as bad as his run defense. That said, it still left a bit to be desired. He saw 80 passing snaps, and in that time he was targeted 11 times. On those targets, Nnamdi gave up 4 receptions for 63 yards and one TD. He defended two passes with no INTs. This translates to an 86.6 QB rating when Nnamdi was targeted, which isn't that bad.
But, there seems to be a disconnect between the total number of targets (11), the receptions (4), and how many passes Nnamdi defended himself (2). There are five targets unaccounted for. While they could have been the result of bad throws, I think if we turn to PFF's pass coverage grades, it might help us fill in the picture. In three games, Asomugha accrued an aggregate pass coverage grade of -2.8, which really isn't that great. It isn't horrible, either, but not much to write home about. His strongest game was against Indy, when he earned a 0.5. So, we can surmise that while the raw stats depict Nnamdi as average/pretty good in pass coverage this season, the PFF grade might suggest that Nnamdi was getting pretty lucky on a few throws.
So, while it is always a bummer to see a guy go - and I sincerely hope he catches on somewhere else and is successful - I think the 49ers' front office saw what the stats guy: Nnamdi was playing a bit below the level he need to be at to stick on a team with as much depth as the 49ers have.
Best of luck, Nnamdi.