With the draft fast approaching, Niner Noise lays out how defensive back Tarvarius Moore’s presence on the roster could change the San Francisco 49ers’ NFL Draft plans come April 25.
The beauty of NFL Draft season, when fans forget so much about their own team. Teams with established veterans prodded on to replace them with a high draft pick. Young players who, just a year ago, were billed as brimming with potential now considered obsolete, while fans hope they get tossed aside. Draft season affects every fan, and that’s no different for the San Francisco 49ers faithful.
One of the biggest holes on the 49ers has been the secondary, largely because the young players general manager John Lynch and Co. brought in have not developed as hoped. Last year, what was supposed to be an average to above-average secondary fell apart when players like Ahkello Witherspoon and Adrian Colbert regressed and got injured.
This stark regression has made many Niner fans convinced the 49ers need to address the secondary in the draft, hopefully with a high pick.
Yet there is a high pick on the roster right now that could subdue some of these concerns: Tarvarius Moore.
Moore, who is an athletic freak, played sparsely last year, getting his main opportunity after Witherspoon was hurt against the Seattle Seahawks late in the season. He had a tumultuous year, to say the least, but he’s still filled with potential.
With the signing of cornerback Jason Verrett, the Niners have added stiff competition for the second corner spot. Witherspoon is a more polished player than Moore. And Verrett, when healthy, is a top-tier corner.
That would leave Moore as the odd man out, essentially having the 49ers waste a third-round pick.
Or would it?
Although corner may be a need, the Niners are in desperate need of a true free safety, at the minimum to add competition to a young room. Here’s where Moore could make an impact. A free safety in college, Moore could be exactly the player the 49ers need.
Coming out of college, Moore was an elite safety prospect who was dinged because of his small-school pedigree. Nonetheless, Pro Football Focus saw him as an elite-level player:
Because of Moore’s size and length, as well as increased confidence in Colbert, the 49ers chose to move Moore to corner. However, the team’s Cover 3 zone scheme requires a lot of free safety-esqe skills. From Niner Noise’s Peter Panacy:
Free safeties are also frequently looking at the action in front of them. 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh runs plenty of zone coverages, which often require cornerbacks to perform similar duties.
Moore’s high-end speed (he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash!) makes sure he would be able to go sideline to sideline. In short, he has all the skills necessary to be an elite safety.
Furthermore, the technique that Moore struggles with, the reason he was considered and is considered raw, isn’t an issue at safety. At safety, Moore has the ability to read and react without worrying so much about individual assignments.
The best example for who Moore could become is now-Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas, the prototype for all single-high safeties.
Just take a look at this play Thomas made with the Seahawks:
Yes, this was from 2015, so we’re looking at prime Thomas. That break to the ball and those instincts, Moore already has those skills, albeit not as elite as Thomas. With his pure athletic ability, there’s no reason why Moore couldn’t become the next great safety.
So why does this matter for the 49ers’ NFL Draft plans? Because if Moore might be a better safety prospect than those within the draft, it frees up what would be a considerably high draft pick for another position of need, like interior offensive line or a luxury wide receiver.