Tarvarius Moore had a big season at safety for Southern Mississippi in 2017. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder led his team with 87 tackles, had three interceptions and broke up 10 other passes.
But when the 49ers selected Moore in the third round of the recent draft, they saw his as a cornerback, not a safety. In Southern Mississippi’s defense, Moore often had man coverage.
In fact, the 49ers see Moore as a rare talent and a contender for a starting position as a rookie. Niners general manager John Lynch cited Moore’s speed (he ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash before the draft), long arms and instincts as perfect to transition to corner.
“You’ve got to have to be able to run to play corner in this league,” Lynch told reporters. “He can flat-out run and he’s got the length and all that.”
San Francisco defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley also is excited about seeing what Moore can do this offseason as the team works toward training camp.
Moore hadn’t been invited to the NFL combine, but the 49ers liked him. Then when Moore had his pro day. His performance was off the charts, so other teams started to scout him more thoroughly.
“He’s got size, length, speed, toughness and ball skills,” Hafley told 49ers.com. “His vision is fantastic. We liked the film before we saw the 4.32 (40 time). I threw my phone across the room because I knew everyone else was going to start to see him. I think other teams had missed him until that point. He’s talented and his best football is ahead of him.”
Moore was a terrific multisport athlete. In high school he was a cornerback and wide receiver, was an outfielder in baseball and was a three-time Mississippi state finalist in track and field, running the 100 and 200 meters, 4x100 relay and doing the high jump.
At the 49ers’ rookie camp this past weekend, Moore told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group that the 49ers showed early and intense interest in him before other teams, with Hafley calling him often.
“I can remember some days him calling three or four times, asking me questions like if I felt comfortable playing safety,” Moore told Barrows.
Now they’re eager to see his transition to cornerback.