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49ers round 3 was about defensive speed and versatility

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The 49ers defense needs pieces, and Fred Warner and Tarvarius Moore are very, very interesting pieces.

The San Francisco 49ers had a variety of apparent defensive needs heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, but they chose to go offense with their first two picks. The 49ers spent a first round pick on offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, and then added wide receiver Dante Pettis in the second round.

The third round arrived, and Robert Saleh finally got a couple weapons. The team drafted BYU linebacker Fred Warner with their first pick of the round, and then defensive back Tarvarius Moore with their second pick of the round.

At first glance, neither would seem like someone to slot into a starting role right off the bat. But these two players could be exactly the kind of weapons a team needs to counter ever-developing offensive schemes. They both bring incredible speed, while providing the kind of positional versatility that modern rosters require.

Fred Warner is listed as a linebacker, but he brings the mobility of a defensive back with the build of a linebacker. The team told him he fits in as an inside linebacker, but his college experience included extensive work covering slot receivers. Warner said he lined up over the slot receiver 80 or 90 percent of the time. He did not play a lot of man-to-man in that situation, but he said he was very comfortable working in space.

Moore was announced as a safety, but the team is already looking at him as a potential cornerback. He’s got incredibly long arms and ran a 4.32 40. Conceivably that could put him in position to get physical at the line but still have necessary recovery speed. John Lynch said cornerback is more of a projection than reality at this point, but they want to see if his skillset can translate.

There is always projection with draft prospects, but with the kind of tools these two players bring, they make a lot of sense as additions to this defense. Sure, a more straight-up pass rusher or pure cornerback makes sense, but I can see where the 49ers were going with these two picks. Whether it pans out is another question entirely, but you can see what the team is looking to do.