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Emmanuel Moseley, DJ Reed, look to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them

There will be bumps in the road, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel

NFL: JUL 30 49ers Training Camp Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Injuries are unfortunate. You never want to see a player go down. Injuries are also inevitable in such a violent game like football. With injuries comes opportunity. The San Francisco 49ers will be without Jimmie Ward and K’Waun Williams for the next few weeks. It didn’t take long for Tarvarius Moore to make the most of his opportunity. He has been running with the first-team defense all week, and after the plays he made Thursday, he’s not giving up his spot any time soon.

With Williams sidelined after a recent knee scope, the reps for slot cornerback have been divided up between DJ Reed and Emmanuel Moseley. When the lights come on Saturday night against the Cowboys, fans will be pleasantly surprised that there isn’t much of, if any, drop off from Williams to the two. Williams has the edge in experience, which leads to more consistent play. Reed and Moseley have athleticism, upside, and ball skills. Like K’Waun, they both love to mix it up as well.

Ahkello Witherspoon on Moseley:

“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.”

‘Spoon also was complimentary of how Moseley can play both inside and outside as well.

What to keep an eye on

The more Reed and Moseley have played in practice, the more plays they have made. They’ve been beaten in coverage, and that’s going to happen during the preseason. I’d watch for a few things. Are they making the same mistake over and over again? Reed feels like a great fit for the slot cornerback because of his physicality and ability to stick to receivers on underneath routes. Where he seemed to find himself in trouble would be when he had to turn and run. That could be on a route down the field, or when he had to turn and run, then break back towards the quarterback.

During the past few days, I’d say Moseley outplayed Reed. You’re starting to nitpick when you talk about what he did wrong. When Moseley was beaten, it was when he was put in a difficult situation against a quality player. Both players are facing Dante Pettis, George Kittle, and Trent Taylor in the slot. I remember twice when they went up against Marquise Goodwin and had to run with vertical with him. Spoiler: They couldn’t keep up!

There’s a good chance Moseley will be sprinkled in with the starters. I want to see how aggressive he plays. How “fast” he plays’ meaning, is he second-guessing what he sees? He’s gained confidence in practice, but he’s also been playing the same receivers for a couple of weeks.

The marathon

Not just with Reed and Moseley, but the 49ers are going to throw some inexperienced players out there during the regular season. Is it fair to them? Probably not. This is the big leagues, though. I wouldn’t worry too much if a player like Dre Greenlaw has a mental mistake or two over during August. Now if you see Moore beat deep on the same type of route in Week 7, yes, that’s a problem.

There are going to be growing pains when you throw young guys out there. The upside is evident with several players, that the bumps along the way will be worth the result. Fans will need to be patient, but with the glimpses, some of these players have shown, it’ll be worth it.