Niners' Tarvarius Moore Has Potential as a Free Safety

The 2018 third-round pick was selected as a cornerback but will compete at a new position in training camp

One of the interesting things to watch in 49ers training camp will be how Tarvarius Moore evolves in his transition from cornerback to safety.

Moore, a second-year defensive back from Southern Mississippi, played both safety and cornerback in college, but was drafted in the third round last year to play corner for the 49ers.

Moore played in 16 games and had two starts at cornerback in 2018, with two passes defensed, a forced fumble and 23 tackles. He played just over 20 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.

But, at organized team activities this spring, Moore was switched to free safety and now will compete with Adrian Colbert, Jimmie Ward, Antone Exum and D.J. Reed, among others, at the position.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh noted at the time that Moore was switched because of injuries at the position, most notably to Ward (who suffered a broken collarbone this offseason). Saleh indicated it wasn’t permanent – but could be.

As OTAs began, Saleh said how Moore performed at safety would determine if he stayed there for training camp.

“That’s something that we loved about Tarvarius Moore is that we drafted him knowing that he’s got great versatility where he could play corner and safety,” said Saleh. “Him being back at safety for these OTAs, if he lighs it up, we’ll see.”

Moore then went out and fared well and will go to camp to compete at that spot.

And, as Peter Panacy of the website Niners Noise pointed out this week, there’s reason to believe Moore was miscast as a cornerback. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Moore has the size for safety and in college peformed at a higher level as a safety.

Panacy cited a Pro Football Focus breakdown of Moore’s play in college that showed Moore with more playing time at safety than cornerback (561 snaps to 335), and higher overall grades and coverage grades as a safety. Pro Football Focus wrote of Moore, “Is he the secret weapon that the #49ers have been looking for in the secondary?”

Daniel Bullocks, who coaches the 49ers safeties, said Moore during OTAs told him he was excited to be back at safety. But, he says Moore may need time to develop during training camp and the exhibition season.

Said Bullocks: “It’ll take him some time to get back in the groove because he hasn’t played the position in a year.”

Because of his potential, however, the 49ers are willing to invest that time in Moore.

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