Shanahan Waiting to Name a Starting Cornerback

Will it be Witherspoon or Moseley against the Vikings? Niners coach will take his time

Ahkello Witherspoon or Emmanuel Moseley?

When the 49ers take on the Minnesota Vikings Saturday in the NFC divisional-round playoff game at Levi’s Stadium, one of those players will start at cornerback opposite Richard Sherman. But which one?

Witherspoon began the year as a starter, was injured, and Moseley played well in his absence. Witherspoon returned but hasn’t been as effective. Then, in the regular-season finale in Seattle, Witherspoon started but was benched in the second half in favor of Moseley after giving up several big plays.

Cornerback play is always crucial, but against the Vikings – who have some playmaking wideouts in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs – it will be especially important for Sherman and Co. to provide solid coverage.

On Tuesday, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said this week’s practice will determine who starts.

“I’ve got a pretty good idea which way we’re leaning towards,” he told reporters. “It’s not a big difference to me. I know it is to them because I know both of them want to get out there so bad.

“I think we’ve got two guys that I feel very confident in both of them helping us win. Whoever starts, it will be based off of who we think gives us the best chance on Saturday.”

Shanahan said he decided to bench Witherspoon late in the game in Seattle because of a “gut feeling.” Witherspoon had given up six catches on eight targets for 71 yards and two touchdowns.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson then attacked Moseley, who gave up only  two completions on five targets for 34 yards. With less than a minute remaining, Moseley broke up a pass intended for D.K. Metcalf that prevented a touchdown to help preserve the win.

Saturday’s game between the 13-3 49ers and 10-6 Vikings is due to kick off at 1:35 p.m.

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