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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

How Do the 49ers Replace Injured Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley?

Dec 7, 2021 at 1:30 PM--

Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley has been playing some really good football this season. He took over the starting corner role in Week 3. Since then, he has been the 49ers' best corner. He's actually been a player who hasn't been talked about enough, and his play this season has been underrated. Moseley has given up just a 56% completion percentage, has defended 10 passes, and has not allowed a touchdown on 51 targets, according to Pro Football Reference.

He was playing good ball to start the game against the Seattle Seahawks, even forcing an incomplete deep pass to wide receiver DK Metcalf. Once he went down, quarterback Russell Wilson targeted his replacement, rookie corner Deommodore Lenoir. Lenoir immediately gave up a deep ball to Metcalf, was called for pass interference, and gave up a touchdown. Lenoir was eventually replaced by Dontae Johnson, who played better. Now, how do the 49ers replace Moseley's play for a few weeks while trying to make the playoffs?

They better find a replacement fast because they play the Cincinnati Bengals this week, who have quarterback Joe Burrow and some good weapons at wide receiver in Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase. Those are tough receivers to cover for a healthy secondary, much less a banged-up one with rookies as back-ups. The 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan, has said cornerback Johnson has a chance to start this week.

It's okay, Faithful. Breathe. 49er fans might be stressing out knowing the history of Johnson, and his less than stellar play. While its likely they will replace Moseley with Johnson, it might be good to see what rookie corner Ambry Thomas can do. The 49ers selected him in the third round of the 2021 draft. Why draft someone that can't contribute? If there was ever a time to play him, it's now. They'll be looking for cornerback help this offseason, in free agency and the draft, so they should see if the guy they drafted is serviceable and if he fits their plans for the future at corner.

To help these corners, they can change the scheme up a bit and throw more Cover 2 looks at opposing offenses to allow their rookie corners and Johnson to defend the shorter passes while having some help over the top. Also, mixing in Cover 4 to prevent deep balls could be part of the plan. This approach would be an example of the defense bending but not breaking. Offering defensive support for the rookies will lead to more success than leaving them on an island with good receivers. Making sure the safeties are getting over the top is vital.

The 49ers will try to replace Moseley with Johnson. If that plan doesn't work, it'll be one of the rookies—Thomas or Lenoir. If Thomas can get reps and looks good, that'll be huge for the 49ers. For now, San Francisco will use the next-man-up/group effort approach.

Good luck to whoever is playing for Moseley! Burrow will target you early and often Sunday. So clench your fist and fight back!

For more 49ers-related content, follow me on Twitter @Marco_mart1205
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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