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49ers 90-in-90: CB Tarvarus McFadden

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today is cornerback Tarvarus McFadden.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State cornerback Tarvarus McFadden made a questionable choice to enter the draft this year, and ended up going undrafted. he has plenty of talent and size, and could have been a third or fourth round draft pick in 2017 after a stellar sophomore season. Replacing Jalen Ramsey as Florida State’s boundary corner, his eight interceptions tied for most in the country.

But last year he just did not play well, notching zero interceptions and 10 pass breakups, while teams targeted him repeatedly. Per PFF, his passer rating when targeted was 125.32.

His low point may have come in the game against Miami, when he gave up the game-winning, 23-yard touchdown with 6 seconds left — the ‘Canes first win in 8 years against FSU. He gave up 11 TDs total during his two active seasons.

Was his decision to go pro after that disappointing season a mark of confidence, or fear that he might lose his starting position altogether if he stayed in college another year? We’ll have a better idea after training camp.

Basic Info

Age: 21 (turns 22 on January 28, 2019)
Experience: Rookie
Height: 6’2 1/4
Weight: 204
40-yard dash: 4.67
Arm length: 32 4/8”

Cap status

McFadden was a priority UDFA. He received a $20,000 signing bonus, and $70,000 of his $480,000 base salary was guaranteed. That’s not a ton of money but it’s a lot by UDFA standards.

What to expect in 2018

The big issue for McFadden is his confidence. He was picked on repeatedly at Florida State, and he’ll be facing much better QBs and WRs in the NFL. He’s plenty big but will need to get more physical.

On the plus side, San Francisco’s press-heavy Cover 3 is a good fit for him. He’s tall and has good press and drape technique, as well as pass rush skills.

On the minus tip, Alistair Corp at Field Gulls identified some key flaws in his coverage technique, notably an “inability to locate the football on deep routes.” That would explain his tendency to give up touchdowns, and will be a serious problem on Sundays. He 40-yard dash time was 54th among the 56 DBs at the Combine, which is not a good sign either.

Odds of making the roster

It all depends on his performance in training camp. The 49ers, suddenly deep in the defensive backfield, are in a good position to gamble on a big, talented scheme-fitting CB, but they may like one of their other prospects better. He faces competition from Jimmie Ward, 3rd round pick Tarvarius (“An Extra i”) Moore and Greg Mabin (who impressed the coaches last year) among others.

McFadden certainly seems a lock for practice squad at least. But would he be claimed off waivers by a hungrier team? He might well, though the fact that no team was willing to spend a seventh round pick on a 6’2 corneerback who had eight INTs in one season suggests otherwise.

John Lynch will have a tricky choice to make on cut-down day, and how well McFadden responds to Richard Sherman’s mentoring will probably influence how willing Lynch is to gamble.