There is no more controversy on who plays cornerback. After the 49ers romped the Texans 34-3 on Sunday night, it was clear who is the undisputed nickel CB for the 49ers. Tramaine Brock, filling in at nickel cornerback for the second consecutive game in place of Nnamdi Asomugha, had the game of his life against the Texans.
With Houston playing multiple wide receivers, the 49ers continued to play in a nickel defense with Brock covering Andre Johnson. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub forced a pass towards Johnson on third down which resulted in a pick-six that lit up the crowd. He had near-perfect coverage all night as Johnson, the veteran receiver was held to only three receptions for 39 yards.
He had a second interception, once again thrown in the direction of Andre Johnson and he caught his own tipped ball. To be a cornerback in the NFL, you need to succeed in press coverage and Brock executed what was a masterpiece performance.
Meanwhile, Nnamdi Asomugha remains out with a knee injury and could be seeing very little time in the future. Against the Packers and Colts, Asomugha had trouble tackling players when allowing a reception. He wasn't bad, but he also wasn't great at the end of each game. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said there was negative and positive plays from Asomugha, but he never made a full-time commitment to the former All-Pro cornerback.
With Brock emerging from competition against Perrish Cox and Asomugha, he will be playing on Sundays for some time to come. An undrafted free agent out of Belhaven University in 2010, Brock was mostly seen on special teams throughout his first three years with the 49ers. He was forced in as the nickel cornerback in 2011 and is remembered for allowing a touchdown in the NFC Championship game against the New York Giants.
He continued to contribute on special teams in 2012 and signed his restricted free agent tender with a $1.323 million cap hit in the offseason for one year. With several cornerbacks becoming free agents after this season, the 49ers will need to attempt to keep Brock for a few more years and promote him to the No. 2 cornerback position.
Against the Rams, he covered every receiver well and assisted an interception by Donte Whitner by tipping the ball in his direction. Both turnovers by the Rams and Texans in back to back weeks were able to keep all momentum on the 49ers side. San Francisco never relinquished the lead after didn't need to look back after both interceptions.
This will be the second time in two years where a player being hurt benefits a reserve player to the starting role. Last year, Alex Smith's concussion catapulted Colin Kaepernick as the team's quarterback and Asomugha's injury this year gave Brock an opportunity to step it up. He was the star of the defense could be a top cornerback for years to come.