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49ers may have stumbled onto something with Greg Mabin

He might not be on a practice squad ever again.

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The San Francisco 49ers defense gave up a lot of key plays against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. The lack of tackling fundamentals was nothing short of maddening and the pass-rush was atrocious, as is becoming tradition.

One shining light to stand out was cornerback Greg Mabin. Mabin played 29 snaps in relief of Ahkello Witherspoon and later Jimmie Ward after the latter was benched, but he had some great highlights on the day. The most memorable being when he punched out the ball from Melvin Gordon’s hands. Unfortunately, the ensuing fumble was recovered by a player out of bounds, so no dice.

Outside of the fumble, Mabin was targeted five times and allowed two receptions for 18 yards. This, along with the fumble was enough to put Mabin Pro Football Focus’ Week 4 Team of the Week with a 89.2 ranking, joining fellow teammate tight end George Kittle. Here’s what PFF had to say about Mabin on the team:

An undrafted free agent in 2017, Mabin saw 29 snaps on the field on Sunday and was targeted five times. From those five targets, he allowed just two receptions for 18 yards and a passer rating of just 50.4. Mabin also finished the day with three tackles, with two of those resulting in a defensive stop.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was also pleased with Mabin’s performance and went into detail on the cornerback at Monday’s press conference:

“I was happy with how he did. He came in, made two big plays on his first two plays in. His first two plays were right after the interception that they returned, the one that we had in our red zone and they returned it. C.J., Pierre, Gilliam did a hell of a job stopping them. Mabin’s first play in he had a tackle for about a one-yard gain. His second play in, he caused a fumble. Then the third play, we got off the field on third down. But, I was really happy with how he played and that’s why he got some time. That’s how he’s looked in practice and he carried it over to the game. We’ll see how this week goes. We’ve got a number of guys. I’m not expecting Sherm to be back, but I won’t put it past him. But, we’ll see how those guys compete throughout the week and make our decision as it goes.”

This is just one game, but the 49ers may have stumbled onto something with Mabin. They have had issues at the cornerback position, mostly due to players being healthy. If Mabin is not a starting cornerback (which we will find out in the coming weeks) he definitely could provide solid depth for the position which would let the 49ers focus on other positions (like a pass rusher) come draft time in 2019.