49ers roster: 5 sleepers to watch as breakout stars in 2021

Jeff Wilson #30 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Jeff Wilson #30 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Dan Arnold, Arizona Cardinals, Tarvarius Moore, San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals tight end Dan Arnold (85) against San Francisco 49ers defensive back Tarvarius Moore (33) Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers Sleeper No. 3: Defensive Back Tarvarius Moore

Fourth-year defensive back Tarvarius Moore is hitting a major crossroads in his NFL career in 2021.

San Francisco’s third-round pick from 2018 has had his splash plays, including what was viewed as a game-changing interception of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LIV. At the same time, though, Moore continues to take poorish angles in pass coverage and still hasn’t cemented himself as a reliable starter despite the 49ers having a long-term need within their secondary.

Moore’s career trajectory could go in one of two different ways.

At worst, Moore could end up being no better a player than the one the Niners have seen the last two seasons, putting him as a primary reserve defensive back in 2021 but likely meaning San Francisco moves on when he becomes a free agent in 2022.

The other, of course, is Moore finally “putting it all together.”

Moore’s development was going to be difficult anyway, as the 49ers having him move around all over the defensive backfield surely stunted his initial development. And young defensive backs tend to struggle to adjust to NFL coverages and opponents anyway, meaning it can take a few years to properly acclimate.

The 24-year-old Moore still has time to do this, yes, and there are going to be opportunities for him to assume a bigger role on the roster even though he’s been given those chances multiple times up to this point.

Hopefully, especially for his own sake, 2021 proves to be the year in which he took his biggest leap as a pro.