• Will Cuberos

Should Tarvarius Moore Stay at Free Safety?

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It’s good to be homeTarvarius Moore

After two productive seasons at Southern Miss, free safety Tarvarius Moore was still a little known prospect coming into the 2018 NFL draft. But once his tape was distributed Moore climbed up draft boards and eventually became one of the better safety prospects in the draft. At his pro day his numbers jumped off the paper: a 4.32 40-yard dash, 39.5 inch vertical jump, and an 11-foot-1 inch broad jump packed in a 6’1” 195-pound frame. He had the numbers and body that the 49ers coveted so with the 95th pick in the draft the selected the safety and promptly moved him to corner. Moore’s college coach Jay Hopson didn’t exactly understand the move, but on Joe Fann’s podcast following the draft he raved about Moore, saying that his “talent will be off the charts” and believing that Moore has All-Pro potential.

After a rookie season with some ups and downs, Moore was ready to head into his second offseason and continue his development at cornerback. Suddenly the unthinkable happened: safety Jimmie Ward broke his collarbone diving for an interception during OTAs. Moore was promptly moved back to safety and seemed to flourish with an interception in his first practice. While defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was noncommittal when asked if the switch was permanent, saying “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” safeties coach Daniel Bullocks said “His best fit I think is free safety,” and new defensive backs coach Joe Woods expressed excitement at the prospect of having Moore at safety in an interview with Dave Lombardi of the Athletic.

Aside from re-signing Ward and Antone Exum, the 49ers elected not to address the safety position in either free agency or the draft; for the cornerbacks, Jason Verrett was brought in and rookie Tim Harris was selected in the sixth round (number 198 overall). Moore’s move to safety would deplete an already thin group at cornerback, but this a problem that the 49ers’ brass have brought upon themselves.

Moore may already have been the best safety on the roster even before Ward’s injury; his Pro Football Focus score of 88.6 was second among all safeties in the 2017 draft, plus he possess the speed and instincts to succeed at the single high safety spot that is so important in the Cover 3 scheme Kyle Shanahan prefers and following comments from Shanahan it seems this maybe have been in the cards for Moore even before Ward’s injury.

While Ward and Adrian Colbert recover from their ailments, Moore should see the lion’s share of the snaps at free safety. If Moore is able to excel at the position, and all accounts seem to support that, he could be the team’s long-term answer at possibly the most important position on the defensive side of the ball.

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