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Tarvarius Moore officially begins his transition from safety to cornerback

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The 49ers drafted Moore with hopes of taking advantage of his combination of size and speed.

For the second straight year, the San Francisco 49ers drafted a tall, long-armed cornerback in the third round of the NFL Draft. Last year, the team selected Colorado’s Ahkello Witherspoon, and this year they drafted Tarvarius Moore out of Southern Mississippi.

While Witherspoon played corner in college, Moore played safety and is going to spend this offseason trying to convert to the cornerback position. After the 49ers selected him, Moore told the local media they had talked some about cornerback, but he seemed to think he was more likely to play safety. However, the start of rookie minicamp has brought him reps exclusively at cornerback.

49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley made it clear earlier this week in a chat with Joe Fann that Moore would be getting his work at cornerback. Hafley thinks he has the “very, very rare traits that could potentially be a very successful corner in this system, in this league.”

Moore flew under the radar much of the offseason after not getting an invite to the NFL Combine. That changed in a hurry when he a ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. Hafley felt they had a sleeper before the 4.32, but joked that he threw his phone after finding out about it because Moore would quickly jump on people’s radar. Hafley detailed what he likes about Moore in his chat with Fann.

“Size, length, speed, toughness, ball skills. His vision’s fantastic. We liked the film before we saw the 4.32, and when I found out he ran a 4.32, I threw my phone across the room because I knew everybody else was going to start to see it there, because they might have missed it. But if you really studied him deep, you wouldn’t have missed it. He’s talented and his best football is ahead of him.”

Moore spoke to the media on Friday before minicamp practice, and he knew his Pro Day helped him in a big way.

“I probably was an under-the-radar guy,” Moore said. “Not a lot of teams knew a lot about me. And if they did, they tried to keep it under wraps. But after my pro day I definitely opened a lot of eyes and I was no longer that guy that you could just sweep under the rug.”

The 49ers wrap up their rookie minicamp on Sunday. The second phase of the offseason workout program will take the team through the next couple weeks, at which point OTAs begin. That will be followed by mandatory minicamp in June, and then the wait for training camp.

This isn’t exactly the make-or-break period for Moore’s conversion to cornerback, but it’s important. The second phase allows for one-on-one coaching, where he will get drilled over and over again on the technique needed to move from safety to cornerback. He’ll be able to get physical in training camp and preseason games, but for now, he’s getting key lessons he’ll build on once full pads go on.