We’ll get into the matchups for the San Francisco 49ers against the Cleveland Browns as the week goes on. One of the most critical matchups will be Emmanuel Moseley, who is expected to make his first career start, lining up against Odell Beckham Jr., one of the most talented wide receivers in football. Moseley has played 45 snaps on defense for the Niners this season in three games and has been targeted twice. Only seven of those snaps have come as a perimeter cornerback. Thankfully, Moseley can lean on the guy starting on the other side of the football for advice.
Richard Sherman has played over 8,000 NFL snaps. There isn’t a route combination he hasn’t seen. He has even followed opposing wide receivers in the slot a few times this season. This is the advice Sherm had for Moseley:
“Ladies love the long ball. That’s what I’ve picked up on. It really is true. At the end of the day, in this league, if you stop the long ball, you stop the big play, then you can stop a lot of offenses. No matter what, for the history of time, the easiest throw was the longest throws. People like nines (go route) and sevens (corner route) and eights (post route). If you can stay on top of those and get the ball from time to time, then you’ll last a long time in this league.”
One area where the 49ers defense has been outstanding at this season is limiting explosive plays. They have allowed the second-fewest explosive pass plays, and the third-fewest explosive run plays. If you take away the big play in the NFL, you get off the field.
Sherman is confident in Moseley, who he feels may be the fastest player on the team:
“It’s all of it. It’s his feistiness, it’s his decision-making, it’s his press, it’s his confidence, it’s his movement his ability to move, his lateral quickness, his straight-line speed. He’d honestly tell you he’s probably the fastest one on the team. And he knows Marquise [Goodwin] is on the team. And you can appreciate that. Obviously I don’t think he’s beating Marquise, but you know, he’d tell you otherwise. He’s a guy that that can play this game at a high level and I don’t think he’s going to shy away from any challenge.”
Once I had the opportunity to see Moseley up close, I could see why players are high on him. Feistiness is a word I used to describe Moseley as well. As a cornerback, that’s one of the best compliments you can get. It means you’re disrupting the timing of the receiver you’re going against. It means that you’re getting in his head in some fashion. Against a player like Beckham Jr., that’s been proven to work.
Here is what Ahkello Witherspoon said about Moseley back in August, when Moseley was getting plenty of reps in practice when K’Waun Williams was sidelined:
“Man, the dude can play. I was telling him today in walkthrough that he’s going to have a hell of a game against the Cowboys. I kind of corrected myself and said you’re going to play well any day of the year. The man can play in this league at a high level. I have a lot of respect for what he can do and his abilities.”
For Moseley, the more he practiced, the more plays he made. Moseley started to outplay D.J. Reed. He was put in situations that were difficult, like going against Dante Pettis, George Kittle, and Trent Taylor, and Moseley held his own.
As Sherman said below, he can play.
“Honestly, I wish he would have had a chance to play last year, because then people wouldn’t be as panicked as they are right now. He’s poised. He can play… I think that sometimes we overcomplicate things and we say, ‘Oh my god, this guy is this way on paper, this guy was this.’ Forget that. These are humans against humans and he’s a human being that can play this game at a high level and we believe in him. That’s why Kyle [Shanahan] and John [Lynch] kept him and that’s why he’s getting this opportunity.”
With “E-Man,” I’ve noticed that he doesn’t waver. That’s huge for a cornerback. You have to have that next play mentality and not dwell on what just happened. The team is confident in him. The players are. Now, we wait and see — what better way to kick off your NFL career against OBJ.