Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

49ers preparing to ramp up playing time for Ahkello Witherspoon

Nov 20, 2019 at 9:09 AM--

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon played in just six snaps during Sunday's win over the Arizona Cardinals. Don't look at his lack of significant reps as an indication that head coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff aren't confident in the young defensive back's ability, his health, or that Emmanuel Moseley has seized the starting job. The limited playing time had more to do with the week leading up to the game.

"Just that Ahkello wasn't able to get a full week of practice in," Shanahan said this week. "We weren't going to throw Ahkello out there without covering a receiver at full speed in about seven weeks unless he could get three full days of practice in.

"We walked through about 80-percent of our reps that week. We walked through on Wednesday, and Friday and Thursday, we had two full-speed practices. Without getting the right amount of practice time in, it really wasn't much of a decision."

Moseley played 65 snaps against the Cardinals, but, once healthy, Witherspoon is expected to slide back into the starting role he had before suffering a foot sprain during Week 3. That could come as soon as Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers at Levi's Stadium, as the 49ers kick off a historically difficult three-game stretch.

There was some debate on who should start opposite Richard Sherman because Moseley has played well in Witherspoon's absence, who himself was playing at a high level before his injury.

Moseley, an undrafted second-year player, has allowed 19 receptions for 248 yards with a touchdown, an interception, and a passer rating of 81.3 on 32 targets this season, according to Pro Football Focus.

By comparison, Witherspoon allowed six receptions for 148 yards with a touchdown, an interception, and a passer rating of 59.5 on 18 targets before his injury, and was targeted once in his limited snaps on Sunday.

The 49ers haven't come right out and said Witherspoon will start on Sunday, and this week's practices will be more telling, but it looks like the young cornerback is ready to reclaim his role.

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