Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers safety Tarvarius Moore took Robert Saleh’s comments as a challenge to prove himself

Aug 17, 2019 at 2:10 PM--

Tarvarius Moore could find himself as the favorite to be the San Francisco 49ers' starting free safety come Week 1. He's taken the majority of the first-team reps on defense during training camp but has been given no guarantees when it comes to his place on the depth chart.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh admits that Moore has made great strides this offseason after transitioning from cornerback. He still wants everyone to feel like they are not only competing for jobs but roster spots.

Saleh seems intent on making the media believe that Jimmie Ward could make a late entrance into the starting free safety competition and possibly win it. But the often-injured defensive back still hasn't taken part in team drills since fracturing his collarbone in May.

"[Moore has] made tremendous strides," Saleh said this week. "He hasn't scratched the ceiling yet, so he's got to continue working. Every single rep there's something new for him, and he's definitely going in the right direction, so I'm pumped for him."

Moore has looked like the best free safety during practices, leading many to believe he's the man to beat for the job. Moore's play has been impressive, and the second-year player sees Saleh's words as an opportunity to continue proving himself.

"I just took it as a challenge," Moore told reporters after Saturday's practice. "If he felt that way, I just wanted to go out there each and every day and just try to change his mind. Just go there and put my best foot forward, put my best tape on film. I'm just trying to prove myself to him, to all the coaches, and to my teammates."

Moore is just taking each opportunity and using it to prove his worth. He wants to show he's a starting-caliber defender. Cornerback Richard Sherman believes Moore has been doing just that.

"He's been making plays since he moved back (to safety) in OTAs," Sherman said on Friday. "When they moved him back, I don't think they were expecting the kind of progress that he's shown right away. I think that's his natural position.

"He does incredibly well with space and understanding and (has) just a great feel for the ball. The ball just seems to find him. I'm very impressed with him, and hopefully, he keeps growing and keeps getting better."

Sherman mentioning OTAs is interesting because that's when Moore feels things started to click for him.

"Probably that second week of OTAs when I was back there," Moore responded after being asked when things started to click. "Just getting comfortable with the playbook at safety, just knowing how we work with the corners, and things like that."

A need at the position forced the 49ers to move Moore to cornerback during his rookie season after he flourished at safety during his time at Southern Miss. Moore got to move back to his more natural position this offseason.

While playing cornerback was a challenge, he was eager to do whatever the coaches felt would help the team.

"It's definitely an easier feel (at safety), a more natural feel, being able to see the whole field," Moore added. "Just seeing routes develop and things like that, and being able to break, and just play freely."

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