49ers roster: Can Tarvarius Moore return from injury in 2021?

Tarvarius Moore #33 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Tarvarius Moore #33 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

While not a massive blow, the 49ers ideally wouldn’t have lost defensive back Tarvarius Moore to an Achilles tear, but he could potentially return in 2021.

San Francisco 49ers defensive back Tarvarius Moore suffering an Achilles tear during the final week of organized team activities couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Not necessarily for the Niners, who stockpiled up at the position during the offseason, but for Moore himself.

The fourth-year pro was entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2021. After three years that saw him rotate around the defensive backfield and flirt with being a starter, Moore was entering a crucial juncture of his pro career this season, one which could determine what kind of free-agent deal he could command a little less than a year from now.

Safe to say, Moore’s injury probably just cost him a few million bucks. Especially if he finally hit his stride this season.

Tarvarius Moore Defense & Fumbles Table

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com
Generated 7/7/2021.

Right around the same time Moore’s injury went public, the Niners also announced they’d lost reserve offensive lineman Justin Skule to an ACL tear.

However, there’s a small indication San Francisco might get Moore back at some point this year. Case in point, Skule was removed from the roster with a waived/injured designation, meaning he had to clear waivers before reverting back to the 49ers on an injury list.

Moore, however, remains on the 53-man roster. That’s a potentially good sign.

Why Tarvarius Moore returns to 49ers in 2021

Without diving too deep into the medical side of things (let’s let the medical experts do that), it’s important to note not all Achilles tears are necessarily of the season-ending variety.

Back in 2013, then-Niners wide receiver Michael Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles and required surgery on May 22, which required approximately six months of recovery time. Crabtree eventually returned that year, appearing in five games and putting up 284 receiving yards and a touchdown.

There’s no guarantee Moore will be on the same trajectory as Crabtree was, but this does point out such an injury suffered early during the year can sometimes lead to a player coming back and contributing.

Good news for Moore, potentially.

Why Tarvarius Moore stays off 49ers roster in 2021

It would be one thing if San Francisco was thin at safety. But it isn’t. And after spending resources to upgrade both the secondary and special teams this offseason, including signing veteran defensive backs like Tony Jefferson and Tavon Wilson, Moore simply might not have a spot on the 53-man roster once he’s fully recovered.

Related Story: Predicting 49ers safety depth after Tarvarius Moore injury

Granted, the 49ers’ regular-season roster will likely look a lot different between now and an optimistic time where Moore could potentially be able to return.

Yet there’s an equally plausible chance, even if he’s fully healthy, there’s simply no spot for him on the roster.

Projecting Tarvarius Moore’s long-term future

Having shown the capability of making the splash play here and there — see Super Bowl LIV — Moore has yet to solidify himself as a reliable starter, either at safety or at cornerback, so it’s understandable why 2021 was going to be so important to his career development.

His one great attribute, speed, might also take a bit of a hit in the wake of his Achilles tear, too. It’s possible another full year would be needed to adequately recover to the point where he has that same speed — a 4.32 40-yard time back at his 2018 pro day — which helped him get drafted in Round 3 of that year’s NFL Draft.

True, the league always has room for decent cover defensive backs even if they perennially remain on the periphery of being a starter.

That said, it’s hard to envision the Niners making any kind of effort to re-sign him in 2022, unless it’s on a bargain-basement deal where Moore can enter some kind of “prove it” year.

Regardless of his long-term future beyond this season, it’s brutal to see him suffer this kind of debilitating injury.

Next. 10 high-profile 49ers draft picks who never panned out. dark