It’s been a strange couple of years for Emmanuel Moseley. He was an unknown headed into the 2019 season. After a couple of injuries, Moseley was propelled into the starting lineup, where he benefited from a tremendous pass rush but also played at a high level himself.
Moseley was one of the league leaders in success rate at 62% during the 2019 season. He always found a way to be in position, which allowed Moseley to break up seven passes and intercept another.
There aren’t many positions in the NFL that are more volatile than cornerback. Jalen Ramsey is Jalen ramsey because he plays the same way against the same receivers year in and year out.
Moseley found out the hard way in 2020 what it’s like to go against the cream of the crop of the NFL, and he did not fare well. In 2021, the 49ers are counting on Moseley bouncing back against the NFL’s elite.
Age: 25 (turned 25 on March 25)
Experience: Three accrued seasons
Weight: 184 pounds
Moseley went from being a restricted free agent to earning himself a new contract. Moseley signed a two-year deal this past free agency worth $9.3 million with $4.4 million guaranteed at the signing. Moseley earns an additional $4.4 million guaranteed on April 1, 2022 when his injury guarantee vests. So, 2021 is a big year for E-Man.
If 2021 doesn’t work out, the 49ers can cut Moseley next offseason and save $5 million in cap space while only having to pay Moseley the remainder of his bonus, which is $1.7 million.
Why he might improve in 2021
After 2019, I thought Moseley was on the verge of stardom. He was playing with confidence and aggression that resembled a cornerback who was a high draft pick. During Week’s 5-12, Moseley would have lead all cornerbacks in yards allowed had it not been for an 88-yard touchdown on Halloween.
He was playing that well. Then, DeAndre Hopkins happened. After giving up over 120 yards against Seattle that followed another big play the next week against Devante Adams, it was clear that Moseley wasn’t going to turn the corner.
Moseley’s yards per target increaded by over a full yard. His completion percentage allowed jumped up ten percentage points. From his average depth of tackle to missed tackles, you name it, and it was worse in 2020 than 2019.
Moseley should be better this time around as the hope is he breaks up a couple of those 50/50 passes his way. There was a stark difference in Moseley vs. DK Metcalf compared to Ahkello Witherspoon Week 17 versus Metcalf. It comes back to where we started: confidence and aggression.
Also, having Nick Bosa back in the fold should help E-Man. A pass rush where cornerbacks don’t have to worry about guarding double moves or covering for longer than three seconds changes their demeanor.
What to expect in 2021
Moseley played well when he had an opportunity in Week’s 12 and 15 against the Rams and Cowboys. He was targeted eight times, allowed three catches, and broke up a pass. Moseley’s expected to win the starting job opposite of Jason Verrett, but how long will his leash be?
There’s no Richard Sherman (the reason he played against the Cowboys) or Witherspoon (the reason he didn’t play during the final two games) to sub in for E-Man.
For as poor as a few stretches were, Moseley’s 2020 season wasn’t nearly as bad as it felt. You’re going to get beaten in the NFL. What you can’t do is continually allow the big play. The goal for Moseley should be eliminate the explosive plays, and he’ll be fine.
Holding it over his head that Moseley was beaten by three of the five best receivers in the NFL isn’t fair for a UDFA in 2018. With a full offseason to prepare as the starter, Moseley’s mindset should be different heading into 2021. Plus, at 25, he’s just scratching the surface.
Moseley may not be what I thought he was after the 2019 season, but if he can middle ‘19 and ‘20, the 49ers have an above average starting cornerback for $5 million a season. You can’t beat that.