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Cox steps into big role with 49ers

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POSTED January 9, 2014 11:20 p.m.

SANTA CLARA (AP) — Nobody could blame Perrish Cox for confusing his uniform, defensive schemes or even what state he’s in these days. It’s been a constant switcheroo.

In a whirlwind two months, the third-year cornerback has gone from San Francisco, to playing for Seattle and back to the 49ers — participating in all but one defensive snap in a 23-20 wild-card playoff win at Green Bay last week.

In the middle of the moving and change, he welcomed a baby girl just after Thanksgiving.

“I tell everybody it’s been the craziest two months of my life,” Cox said. “Back and forth to Seattle, I had my little girl Nov. 29. That Friday when I got released, my agent had called me and told me they had already contacted me right after I came across the waivers. I knew I was coming back before anybody else did. I had no clue I was playing that much, though.”

Cox earned it with an impressive week of practice. He hopes to play a big part again in the NFC divisional playoffs Sunday at Carolina.

“We expected him to play to the best of his ability, which he has,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thursday. “Yeah, we got him off the street a few days before the game but he had spent the year and however many games here, two training camps, so he knew our system and it was an easy adjustment for him that way. But he hadn’t played any significant playing time while he was with us and none when he was with Seattle. Major kudos to him to go out and perform the way he did.”

The 49ers used their nickel defensive package for about a third of the game against the Panthers in a 10-9 loss on Nov. 10, so Cox is unlikely to play nearly as much this Sunday. And the Niners (13-4) are hoping for the return of Carlos Rogers, who missed Sunday’s victory against the Packers with a strained right hamstring.

Eric Wright also was listed with a hamstring injury, but he said he was healthy enough to play and it wasn’t his decision after he expected to play the nickel.

Rogers said Thursday he is improving each day. While he began sprinting short distances Wednesday, he has yet to test the hamstring cutting side to side.

If he’s unable to play at full speed, Rogers realizes it might be better for Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock to remain the starters in the base defense, with Cox or Wright contributing in the nickel. In addition, rookie safety Eric Reid is healthy after suffering a concussion in the first meeting with Carolina.

“It’s frustrating. I’ve got to help those guys out, and I’m going to continue to take notes as if I’m playing,” Rogers said. “I’m trying to be aggressive with it but not too aggressive and hurt it more.”

Cox will stay ready for whatever role he is asked to handle.

This is another fresh start for him — and on the NFL’s big stage.

Cox got cut by Seattle on Dec. 27, then re-signed with San Francisco three days later. By Sunday, with only a handful of practices under his belt back with his old team, Cox played nearly the entire game.

“I had no clue I was going to play that much,” Cox said. “I actually didn’t even know I was going to be starting in the nickel until right before the game.”

He was initially released by the 49ers on Nov. 12 and joined the rival NFC West champion Seahawks on Nov. 26.

Now, if the reigning NFC champion Niners move on, they could be headed to Seattle for a matchup with Cox’s former Seahawks with a Super Bowl berth on the line. Seattle must first get by New Orleans at home.

“He’s hungry. Everyone has a wake-up call, and I think Perrish understands that,” linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. “His focus with him coming back was tremendous, and that’s the reason he was on the field on Sunday. We expect him to keep that going.”

Notes: Offensive coordinator Greg Roman didn’t deny interviewing for the Penn State coaching vacancy — but wasn’t forthcoming, either. “Speculation. I’m not going to comment on it,” he said. “Rumors, water cooler talk. I’m focused on this game.”... Fangio said he hasn’t been contacted by any NFL teams to interview for head coaching jobs.

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