San Francisco 49ers: 3 players who must exceed expectations in 2020

The San Francisco 49ers defense (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The San Francisco 49ers defense (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Emmanuel Moseley, 49ers
Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) /

No. 1: 49ers Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley

In 2018, then-starting cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon had the unfortunate luxury of being the player opposing quarterbacks targeted while avoiding fellow corner Richard Sherman.

Last season, Witherspoon lost his job multiple times to an undrafted player, Emmanuel Moseley, whom the 49ers felt comfortable enough starting in the Super Bowl.

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Moseley had a massive coverage gaffe in that game, yes. But he also posted a solid 70.0 overall Pro Football Focus grade on the season, proving he’s at least a reliable option for San Francisco’s secondary heading into 2020.

True, Sherman is aging and it wouldn’t be a shock to see other teams go after the veteran a bit more this season. That said, Sherman’s prowess alone means Moseley will experience the same kind of treatment Witherspoon endured back in 2018 and early in 2019.

This will ultimately mean an increase in the number of plays Moseley could give up, just as much as it could be reflected in Moseley’s positive stats.

San Francisco would be hoping for more interceptions and pass breakups than the one and eight, respectively, he produced in limited action last season. But the gist of Moseley’s importance is the likelihood he’ll be a key focal point for all the teams the Niners face this season.

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If Moseley takes that next-level leap and proves he’s not a liability, the 49ers defense will be that much better because of it.