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The Cleveland Browns are coming to Levi’s Stadium, and with them comes all the hype of being the NFL’s “it” team for the 2019 season. On offense, the Browns have Baker Mayfield at quarterback and one of the NFL’s best wide receiver tandems in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.
The entire 49ers secondary will need to be on its game when it comes to covering Landry and OBJ, but that task specifically falls to cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Emmanuel Moseley. Sherman’s bona fides have been well established in the league, and he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when his playing days are over. Moseley, on the other hand, will get his first opportunity to write his NFL story on Monday night. What can 49ers fans expect from Moseley when he makes his first career start?
Moseley may not have the height of Richard Sherman or the man he is replacing, Ahkello Witherspoon, but he plays with that mindset and it shows up on film. When asked about Moseley, head coach Kyle Shanahan said “He’s not the biggest guy, but he doesn’t seem like that when he’s out there. He plays very physical. He’s extremely detailed in everything he does. Everything you give him, in a few days, he always figures it out. He’s very football savvy and has the ability to cover.”
Moseley has been undervalued throughout his football journey. As a high school quarterback, in North Carolina, Moseley was his conference’s offensive player of the year as a senior. Despite his success, Moseley was lightly recruited and committed to play cornerback for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 49ers. However, he worked his way to a better opportunity through his play.
At a University of Tennessee football camp, he impressed the coaches enough to earn himself an offer from the SEC blueblood.
As a freshman, Moseley worked on and off the field to earn his playing time. When he arrived on campus, he was a slight 145 pounds, but by the time the season had ended he had added 20 pounds and would add another 25 pounds by the time the NFL draft came around.
Even though Moseley logged 30 starts at the highest levels of college football, he was not invited to the NFL combine and despite recording some explosive numbers at his pro day he would go undrafted.
Emmanuel Moseley is going to get the first start of his NFL career on “Monday Night Football” and it will come against one of the best receivers in football, but it will be nothing new for Moseley. On October 25, 2014, Moseley saw his first action in college against Alabama receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper was dominating Tennessee to the point where the coaches decided to give the freshman a shot. Cooper finished the day with nine catches for 224 yards, but only 3 of those catches and 27 of those yards came after Moseley was sent in to cover him.
Moseley figures to see a lot of Odell Beckham Jr. on Monday; a match-up that on paper favors the Browns. Moseley, however, will not be over-matched physically. Moseley and OBJ are both 5-foot-11, both ran 4.42 in the 40-yard dash, both recorded 38.5-inch verticals. Success or failure is going to come down to the mental preparation.
When it comes to a cornerback’s mental preparation there is no better resource than Richard Sherman and Moseley confirmed this week that Sherman has helped him both in practice and in the film room.
When asked, Sherman seemed to indicate that Moseley is ready for his first start “Honestly, I wish he would have had a chance to play last year, because then people wouldn’t be as panicked as they are right now.” His coaches and teammates feel that he is ready for the challenge that awaits, both physically and mentally; they have confidence in him and he has confidence in himself, so fans should expect to see a confident and prepared player who is ready to prove that he belongs, just as he has done at every stop on his football journey.
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