Wright may end up in SF after Culliver's injury
By JOE STIGLICH
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Free agent cornerback Eric Wright might end up in a San Francisco 49ers uniform after all.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh indicated Sunday that the team has had contact with Wright since losing nickel back Chris Culliver to a season-ending knee injury Thursday.
The 49ers were set to acquire Wright from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a trade until the 28-year-old Wright failed a physical July 22. The 49ers voided the trade and the Buccaneers released him.
Harbaugh was asked following Sunday's workout if the team has had dialogue with Wright since Culliver went down.
"I believe so," Harbaugh said.
Asked if Wright had come in for another physical and whether he was part of the team's plans, Harbaugh responded: "We're assessing. . I don't have a crystal ball, but there's a process."
Injuries have been an issue for the 49ers as they prepare for their exhibition opener Thursday against the Denver Broncos. The receiving corps has been hit hardest, but Culliver's loss to a torn anterior cruciate ligament is also a costly blow.
He's played significantly the past two seasons as the team's third cornerback behind starters Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers, taking the field when opponents enter obvious passing situations.
With Culliver out, Tramaine Brock will get a crack as the third cornerback, but former All-Pro Nnamdi Asomugha - in camp on a one-year deal with no guaranteed money - figures to also get consideration.
The defending NFC champions had the fourth-best pass defense in the NFL during the 2012 regular season at 200.2 yards per game, but the secondary had issues during the playoffs, when that number jumped to 306 yards per game.
"(Culliver) played a big role on this team, not only defensively but special teams," Rogers said. "Chris went down, but he'll be strong and come back. It just gives other guys opportunities to step up and play for that third corner position."
Rogers, who moves inside to cover the slot receiver in the 49ers nickel package, said training camp will be important to develop chemistry with whoever winds up being the third cornerback.
"Me and Chris had that down because we played so many snaps together," Rogers said. "I'd just look out there at Chris and point at the receiver or something, and he'd know what I mean. Me and Tramaine are going to have to get that same communication down, or whoever's on the outside."
Wright might get his chance if the 49ers add him to the roster. They were prepared to send a conditional draft pick in 2014 to Tampa Bay in exchange for him.
NOTES: The 49ers had three injured receivers back on the practice field Sunday: A.J. Jenkins (hamstring), Kassim Osgood (leg) and Kyle Williams (hamstring). All three are candidates to start opposite Anquan Boldin. Harbaugh said he expected Jenkins, a 2012 first-round pick, to play Thursday despite his missed time. ... Harbaugh said he anticipated that "a few" players would not play Thursday, but the only player he mentioned specifically was LB Patrick Willis, who wasn't expected to play as he recovers from a fractured right hand. ... Harbaugh had praise for second-year RB LaMichael James and said James will likely get first crack at punt returns Thursday. ... LBs NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith returned to practice. C Jonathan Goodwin remained out, with Daniel Kilgore working with the first team Sunday. Left tackle Joe Staley also sat out with Adam Snyder taking his place. . Rookie Eric Reid, a first-round pick in April, saw significant time at free safety with the first team.
Updated August 4, 2013