SANTA CLARA -- Carlos Rogers grades himself as "solid" through the first half of this season, and the statistics back up that claim by the 49ers' highest-paid cornerback.
Quarterbacks are completing only 50 percent of their passes and producing a 67.7 passer rating when targeting Rogers. Those marks, respectively, rank him 13th and 21st among the league's cornerbacks.
But Rogers isn't just taking pride in his seemingly improved coverage ability at left cornerback and the slot. "I'm playing solid all around — against the run and at times covering tight ends," Rogers said.
If he stops playing solid, the 49ers could now turn to the sideline and summon a potential successor in Eric Wright, who was activated last week and could make his season debut Sunday.
When it comes to Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers, Rogers will have to help shut down Steve Smith, the Panthers' all-time leading receiver and arguably the league's most combative.
Rogers said he and Smith got along well in their previous meeting, when Rogers was with the Washington Redskins in 2009. If he isn't covering Smith or former 49ers teammate Ted Ginn on the outside, Rogers will shift to the slot and match up against Brandon LaFell.
Rogers said his first order is to stay committed in coverage rather than anticipate a scramble by quarterback Cam Newton. "But if Cam scrambles, everyone's got to pursue him to get him down, because he's a load," Rogers said.
Rogers has been targeted 48 times through the season's first half, allowing 24 receptions with one touchdown and one interceptions, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Last season, he allowed a 70.9 completion rate and a 94.1 passer rating, which was a drop off from his 2011 Pro Bowl season (53.4 completion rate, 65.1 rating).
Rogers thinks he's playing on the "same" level as last year, as well as his six-interception total in 2011 when he joined the 49ers after six seasons with the Redskins.
"Carlos has played well," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "And, like I said before, we're lucky to have him and we're glad we have him."
Rogers is making $5.5 million in base salary this season, more than all the other 49ers' cornerbacks combined. He's due $6.25 million next season in the penultimate year of a contract the 49ers likely will try reworking. The only cornerbacks under contract for 2014: Chris Culliver and Darryl Morris.