"I'm 100 percent sure he came here because of me," Smith said Wednesday. "No doubt about it; he's West Coast guy. He was not coming out to the east unless I was there."
The Baltimore Ravens, who asked Smith to make the call, signed Wright on Tuesday after placing nickelback Will Davis (knee) on injured reserve. The Ravens knew Smith would be influential given that he has been friends with Wright for 14 years and they were high school teammates at Colton High School in Southern California.
Wright is expected to see plenty of playing time behind starters Smith and Lardarius Webb, who didn't practice Wednesday because of a thigh injury.
"It played a big role," Wright said of Smith's phone call. "That's like my brother."
Signing with the Ravens offers more than a reunion with Smith. Wright gets to play against his former team Sunday, when the Ravens play at the 49ers.
Wright, who started the previous two seasons for the Chargers, quickly fell out of favor in San Francisco. After signing a one-year, $3 million deal this offseason, Wright was a healthy scratch for the first four games of the season.
He asked for his release to go to a place where he could play, and the 49ers granted it by cutting him Saturday.
“Honestly, to me, I just feel like they wanted to go a different direction," Wright said. "I feel like when I signed there, they had plans for me, and a lot of things happened on the defense. They lost a lot of guys. I feel like losing all those guys, they kind of went a different direction. I don’t know if there was a rebuild-type of mode. And [with] me being on a one-year deal, I kind of didn’t have a future with them."
Wright added, ""I know I'm better than a fifth corner on any team in this league. If you're not going to use me, let me go and get an opportunity to play football."
According to Pro Football Focus, Wright was the 103rd-ranked cornerback last season. He allowed 41 passes for 532 yards and three touchdowns. His 11 penalties were tied for sixth-most in the NFL.
"It’s good to be able to [have] my first game being on the field going against my ex-team," Wright said. "It’s one of those things [where] things happen for a reason.”