Option No. 3: 49ers move Emmanuel Moseley inside on nickel formations
Right now, San Francisco’s starting two cornerbacks are Charvarius Ward and Emmanuel Moseley, the No. 3 guy being 2021 rookie Ambry Thomas, who struggled early but eventually found some footing late in the year after receiving some much-needed playing time.
The depth chart won’t exactly reflect the deployment in that kind of order, though.
It’s important to note nickel defenses are the predominant formations now used, a third cornerback lining up on the field at the expense of a linebacker (usually) coming off of it.
While Moseley can play the boundary in base formations, perhaps the best option the 49ers have right now is to bump him inside on nickel downs, letting Thomas play on the boundary in such packages.
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It wouldn’t be a bad move. Last year, according to Pro Football Focus, Moseley allowed a passer rating of 79.2 when covering the slot, albeit on minimal opportunities. In 2020, that number was 77.5, while his 2019 efforts were at 85.4.
Aside from depth and injury concerns, this might be the Niners’ best option, as it wouldn’t require the investment of another high-profile draft pick in a cornerback and wouldn’t cost additional finances via NFL free agency.
Don’t be surprised if this is how San Francisco ultimately replaces K’Waun Williams this year.