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Tarvarius Moore needs time, but we shouldn’t have to wait too long

The “first year” free safety is progressing at a rate that will make it tough to keep him off the field

Chicago Bears v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Tarvarius Moore is going to start at safety for the San Francisco 49ers during the 2019 regular season. It may not be against Tampa Bay Week 1, but I don’t think we have to wait until Week 10, either. From the moment the team moved Moore to free safety, this seemed inevitable. A week into training camp and the feeling of Moore starting is becoming Palpable.

It didn’t take long, but he’s already jumped Adrian Colbert and Antone Exum on the depth chart. When Robert Saleh yells “1’s up,”—meaning the starters—Moore runs onto the field. Looking at some of the plays he’s making in practice, it’s easy to see why. An example during Sunday’s practice: a sweep to Tevin Coleman ends up as a tackle for loss. Nick Bosa fights to set the edge while he gets in the backfield, Fred Warner avoids Kyle Juszczyk’s block, and now Coleman is out of room to run. Who is there to meet him as he cuts back? Tarvarius.

Being fast is a nice trait to have. Being instinctual is what makes separates the best of the best. Moore has instincts. Slowly but surely, you can see that Moore is gaining confidence in what he sees on the field, and he’s starting to make an impact. Listen to Saleh talk about him:

Athleticism was never going to be an issue. Saleh spoke highly of Moore’s football intelligence. The only thing holding Moore back is that he’s still very new to playing free safety in the NFL. Like Saleh said above, eye discipline, and knowing what you’re looking at will be and have been the biggest adjustments for Moore.

There was a play-action play where Dante Pettis had to dive for a would-be touchdown. Moore had his eyes on one route, allowing Pettis to get behind him. Fortunately, Moore has the makeup speed to recover when he is beaten. That still doesn’t make the process acceptable. You never want a player to strictly have to rely on their athleticism. Pettis couldn’t haul the catch in, so it goes down as an incomplete pass. It’s the kind of play Moore probably sees coming a month from now. It’s also a good example of why live reps matter for any player’s development. You can go over as much film as you want, but these experiences when you’re not expecting them will resonate with Moore than two hours of film study ever would.

I’m using two plays, both good and bad, to highlight Moore has a chance to be a “player,” and it shouldn’t be long before he gets there, but there are going to be some growing pains along the way, and that’s okay.

Saturday cannot come soon enough.