49ers 2021 rookie lineman Jaylon Moore flashed some promise during his inaugural preseason but then fell out of favor. Could 2022 prove to be vastly different?
In 2021, it appeared as if the San Francisco 49ers had two day-three rookies who’d potentially overtake two other day-two NFL Draft picks, Elijah Mitchell over Trey Sermon at running back, and then Jaylon Moore over Aaron Banks on the offensive line.
A former tackle at Western Michigan, the Niners appeared poised to bump Moore inside to guard, where he could serve as an interior backup right away while also having the positional flexibility to act as an emergency swing tackle.
Early on, it appeared as if Moore was on the right trajectory, looking good enough during both training camp and in preseason games.
Yet there ended up being some shakiness along the way. On top of that, injuries along the offensive line, namely to starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey, ultimately forced Moore to start three games at tackle.
The results were so-so, even for a late-round rookie lineman.
Heading into year two, the 6-foot-4 and 311-pound Moore has some competition that’ll challenge his spot on the roster, but one might also expect him to hone in on much-needed development that should have come with a year’s worth of experience.
Why Jaylon Moore improves with 49ers in 2022
From a comparative standpoint, Moore still wasn’t on the field too much his rookie season, seeing only 145 snaps (13.29 percent) in limited action.
So, understandably, the sample size is small. According to Pro Football Focus, however, Moore’s cumulative grade for 2021 was 59.0 with slightly better marks for run blocking and him underwhelming slightly in pass protection, PFF giving him a 56.1 grade there while allowing one sack, one quarterback hit and five pressures on 72 pass-blocking snaps.
It’s not awful, but it’s not particularly good either.
However, small-school picks taken in the later rounds of the NFL Draft often take a year or two to fully acclimate to the level of competition at the pro level, so there’s always going to be the chance Moore flashes much better prowess entering 2022.
Why Jaylon Moore stays flat with 49ers in 2022
Moore looked fairly competent during his first start last year in Week 7 versus the Indianapolis Colts, but his efforts in his third pro-level start against the Jacksonville Jaguars were messy. Moore had all kinds of trouble setting the edge in that game, and he was visibly overwhelmed at times.
While there’s no direct correlation between that game and Moore’s overall ability, it’s important to note his 2021 NFL Draft profile highlighted zone-style prowess, centering on Moore’s capability on the move. However, last year also revealed the Niners shifting a bit away from zone and into more man-gap and power schemes.
Those aren’t Moore’s strengths, and sticking with that blocking scheme could translate into bigger challenges if he’s asked to take on a larger role this season.
Chances Jaylon Moore makes 49ers’ 53-man roster
Moore filled in for McGlinchey twice and left tackle Trent Williams once, yes, but San Francisco elected to use now-Denver Broncos lineman Tom Compton to fully relieve McGlinchey after he suffered a season-ending quad tear halfway through the season.
A clear downvote for Moore, the 49ers’ 2022 additions of rookie linemen like Spencer Burford, Nick Zakelj, Jason Poe and Dohnovan West serve to add even more competition for the interior of the O-line between now and Week 1.
And that doesn’t even include returnees like Justin Skule and Colton McKivitz.
Fortunately for Moore, the O-line’s reserve unit is awfully fluid right now, and the competition should be viewed as wide open. While Moore is squarely on the roster bubble his second year in the league, he could feasibly rise as high as being an immediate backup at either tackle or guard.
It’s a pretty wide landing spot, one which Moore hopes to find himself on the upper echelon.