If you ask the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff about Tarvarius Moore, it'll praise the second-year safety but also tell you to readjust your expectations. Coaches will quickly note that Moore has a lot more to learn before they're ready to declare him ready to start. They like his progress, though, and certainly aren't putting it past Moore to make a significant impact this season.

"It's like I said, he does not lack athletic ability or anything like that," defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said on Wednesday. "It's just catching up in the position, with the position. He's a smart kid, so he's learning pretty quick. When his feet are on the ground, and he's in the box, or he's in the middle of the field, he's got great physicality to him. I'm excited about the direction he's going into, and he's making that competition very close."

As Jimmie Ward continues to work his way back from a fractured collarbone, Moore received a lot of reps with the first-team defense during training camp and has looked good doing so. He even stepped in front of wide receiver Dante Pettis on Thursday and came away with a Jimmy Garoppolo-thrown pass. Later during the same practice, Moore impressively broke up another Garoppolo-thrown pass, this time intended for tight end George Kittle.

It will be interesting to watch Moore in a live game on Saturday. He's looked solid so far, whether the coaches want to praise him openly or not.

"He's doing well," cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon said of Moore on Thursday. "He's picking up on the details, the finite things that you really have to focus on to be a productive safety in this league because the windows are so small. He's improving. He's really focusing on what it takes to make those plays.

"He had a few plays today that you could kind of see how gifted he is, naturally. Combined with that focus and that approach, he has a good opportunity to be a hell of a player."

It is worth noting that this is Moore's first year playing safety in the NFL. Although, it was his natural position in college. What has helped him progress so quickly?

"Just my coaches, and my teammates, just always trying to help me," Moore told reporters. "My coaches staying with me, meeting with me after and before practice, things like that. Just staying in the playbook every single day. Just things like that. Pointers from the guys in the room. Everybody is trying to help each other."

Moore believes he has excellent speed and instincts to succeed at safety. He also said his range, his ability to go sideline to sideline when needed, will also help him flourish.

But what about his rookie season? Upon being drafted, Moore assumed the 49ers wanted him to play safety. Although, he admitted that team coaches asked him during the evaluation process about his background playing cornerback. He played the position in high school, after all. But multiple teams asked him about that experience. Moore fits the physical profile, and the 49ers had a need at the position.

Moore wasn't shocked by the move to cornerback. He was just eager to play football. Moore didn't question his coaches and just went to work.

The defensive back is returning to his natural position this year. Some feel that 2018 might have been a wasted year in his development. Moore, however, sees it as a benefit.

"I definitely consider it helped me," Moore said. "It's given me that NFL experience. It's different, obviously, from corner to safety, but it's still experience at the end of the day. Just going out there, knowing what to expect, knowing what to expect from a corner's perspective as well, so being more able to help them out. I'd definitely say it helped."

Moore will put that experience to work on Saturday as he tries to convince his coaches he deserves more than being buried behind others in the depth chart.


  • Should Tarvarius Moore be the 49ers' starting free safety?
  • Yes
  • No