A fresh start in a familiar place is bringing out the best in Nnamdi Asomugha.
The four-time All-Pro cornerback felt right at home Saturday as the San Francisco 49ers practiced in pads for the first time in training camp, using the size and press-coverage skills that made him a star during his first stint in the Bay Area.
Asomugha is looking to regain the form at age 32 that made him one of the NFL’s elite defensive players during his eight seasons with the Oakland Raiders.
And the defending NFC champion 49ers are looking for an upgrade in their secondary, which struggled in the playoffs during the team’s run to the Super Bowl last season before losing All-Pro safety Dashon Goldson to free agency earlier this spring.
Asomugha, after a forgettable two seasons with Philadelphia, thinks he can give the Niners a lift in his return to a region where he also starred during his college days at the University of California.
With San Francisco coming off its first trip to the Super Bowl in 18 years, Asomugha has felt a lift of inspiration and incentive as he embraces his new team. The 11th-year veteran has never been to the playoffs.
“There’s always this feeling of a fresh start because the previous season has never really been that great,” Asomugha said. “In my career I’ve never been on a playoff team … The fact that they’re building off the Super Bowl definitely changes the whole landscape of how this season is going mentally for me so far.”
Asomugha ranked near the bottom of starting NFL cornerbacks last season in several statistical categories, and was released in March when he and the Eagles could not agree on terms of a restructured contract.
A HEAD-SPINNING VIEW
NBC Sports Group and the Dallas Cowboys are partnering on a new 360-degree look at red zone plays for TV viewers and fans attending the game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, this season.
The network will use 24 high-speed cameras — 12 in each red zone on both sides of the field from the 20-yard line to the goal line and in the back of each end zone — to produce seamless views of the action.
“Sunday Night Football” producer Fred Gaudelli said the system will give fans a new perspective on big plays during games. The 360-degree view will debut on the Sept. 8 broadcast of the New York Giants-Cowboys game.
Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin tore the ACL in his right knee during practice Saturday and could miss the season. Maclin is headed into his fifth season with Philadelphia. He led the team with 69 catches for 857 yards and seven touchdowns last season. … Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta is undergoing surgery and will miss the entire 2013 season after dislocating his hip in practice, a league source told ESPN. Pitta caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns last season. … Texans running back Arian Foster is still recovering from a right calf strain, but said he feels good and shouldn’t miss much more camp. Foster rushed for 1,424 yards and 15 touchdowns last season for his third consecutive 1,200-yard season. … Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul says he’s still recovering from disc surgery and is uncertain he will be ready for the team’s season opener. … Raiders receiver Andre Holmes has been suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. … Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says the team hasn’t decided whether quarterback Tony Romo will play in the exhibition opener, the Hall of Fame game Aug. 4 against Miami in Canton, Ohio.