No. 1: Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley
Given how much cornerback Emmanuel Moseley has played this season for the 49ers (576 non-special teams snaps during the regular season), it’s a little strange to look at the former Tennessee Volunteer as a depth player.
But considering the poor play of fellow cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon in the last few weeks, and his being benched for Moseley in crunch time on Sunday in Seattle, it remains likely Moseley will feature heavily in the Niners’ plans during the playoffs.
So if you think about depth, in terms of a player who has been a consistent starter from the outset of the season, Moseley certainly fits the description.
San Francisco 49ers
And in terms of the importance he should have for the 49ers defense during the playoffs, he’s one of the more pivotal members of the team, who either hasn’t been playing the same amount of snaps throughout the year, or isn’t returning from injury as the postseason begins.
After mainly featuring as a second slot corner option behind K’Waun Williams during the first few weeks of the season, Moseley stepped into Witherspoon’s slot when the latter cornerback went out with an injury against the Steelers in Week 3.
According to PFF, Moseley has been solid all year, with a 70.0 overall grade and a 68.0 in coverage. His high marks came against Cleveland (74.7 overall, 75.9 coverage), Carolina (80.7, 85.9), the first Seattle game (72.5, 74.8) and Green Bay (72.1, 71.1).
Compare that to Witherspoon’s grades, which have earned a yearly overall of 61.0 and 63.5 in coverage, with just three games over 70: Tampa Bay (80.8, 81.7), Cincinnati (72.0, 75.9) and Baltimore (74.0, 71.0).
But the point here isn’t to say Moseley should definitely be the starter over Witherspoon, or that Witherspoon should never see the field again. The point is Moseley, no matter what happens with Witherspoon, will make an impact for the 49ers during this postseason.
It’ll be important to the team’s success that, as he has been all season, he’s ready for the chance when it comes.