No one expected Marlon Moore to be a starting wide receiver for the 49ers when he signed with the team this offseason.
The fourth-year pro from Fresno State is listed as a wide receiver on the roster, but during his first three NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins his work primarily was on special teams. It was that ability the 49ers were looking at when they signed him to beef up their special-teams play in 2013.
Yet because of injuries to others, his speed and his performance in training camp this summer, Moore – who had just 12 catches in three seasons with the Dolphins – found himself as a wideout in the starting lineup last week opposite Anquan Boldin when San Francisco opened its exhibition season against the Denver Broncos.
Moore played just eight snaps in the game, departing with the starting unit early in the first quarter. But in that time he made a catch of a Colin Kaepernick pass for 12 yards and did the things the 49ers coaching staff and his teammates have noticed since he joined the team. He’s been reliable, shown good hands and been able to use his speed – among the best in the team’s receiving corps – to spread the field.
Niners rookie safety Eric Reid says Moore has been impressive.
“Speed guy. He’s a deep threat for this team,” Reid told the Bay Area media this week. “He’s reliable. We can send him downfield and throw him the ball if we need to.”
Moore said he’s just been working hard, trying to take advantage of the opportunity he’s had with the 49ers to earn a job.
“I just wanted to go out there and play as hard as possible and make all the plays I possibly could and do the best that I could,” Moore told Jimmy Durkin of the Bay Area News Group. “Eventually, somebody will take notice.”
Reporters have noted through the first weeks of training camp that Moore and another journeyman veteran, Chad Hall, have been the most consistent 49ers receivers, aside from Boldin.
And as he’s gotten more reps, Moore has developed a good rapport with Kaepernick, whom he new when he often played for Fresno State against Kaepernick's Nevada.
“Me and Kap, we’ve been cool since college,” Moore told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. “I always tell him, ‘If you throw it up, I’m going to do my best to make a play for you. It’s either coming to me or nobody’s going to get it.’ That’s the mindset that we have. If he throws the ball up, it’s mine. And I’ve got to go get it for him no matter what.”
Head coach Jim Harbaugh has been pleased with what he’s seen from Moore. And, based on his comments, it appears Moore should win a spot on the 49ers as both a receiver and special teams player.
“The way he competes, his knowledge of the system, smart guy that right now is already able to play multiple receiver positions,” said Harbaugh, when asked about Moore. “He’s made plays. He’s had some eye-catching, eye-popping type of plays and has been consistent as well. So, he’s been consistently good.”