How 49ers' Tarvarius Moore embraces challenge of moving back to safety

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

SANTA CLARA -- Tarvarius Moore's new position with the 49ers isn't exactly new to him.

Moore is playing safety in his second training camp with the team after playing cornerback as a rookie in 2018. He was a safety in college at Southern Mississippi and moved back to the role this offseason after Jimmie Ward fractured his collarbone.

That doesn't mean the transition back to the 22-year-old's natural position is without growing pains.

"Of course it's an adjustment from college to the NFL," Moore said Thursday. "So [I'm] just working on my details and things like that that the coaches have been stressing to me, just trying to put my best foot forward."

Doing so ensured Moore stood out during Thursday's practice. During his first-team reps in the secondary, he was responsible for what were the standout defensive plays of the 49ers' 11-on-11 sessions.

Moore intercepted a Jimmy Garoppolo pass intended for Dante Pettis during red-zone work, stepping in front of the wide receiver as he cut to the inside. Later, Moore broke up a deep ball thrown to tight end George Kittle along the left sideline, providing help to linebacker Kwon Alexander after Kittle gained outside leverage.

An awareness of Alexander's responsibilities have come with the territory of playing safety, according to Moore, as he said he now must know the assignments of every level of the 49ers' defense. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon thinks Moore is picking up on those details well.

"He's improving," Witherspoon said. "He's really focusing on what it takes to make those plays, and he had a few plays today that you could kind of see how gifted he is naturally. Combined with that focus and that approach, he has a good opportunity to be a helluva player."

The 49ers host the Dallas Cowboys in their preseason opener Saturday, and Moore's progress will be tested. That will be his first look in his old, familiar position against an opponent wearing a uniform other than his own.

Just over a week ago, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said Moore still had a long way to go in order to be "an NFL-ready safety by Week 1." Moore has improved since then, however, and he credited feedback from his teammates and working with the coaching staff before and after practices in helping him go back to playing safety.

He ultimately feels the position change reflects the team's belief in him.

"I feel like they wouldn't put me in any position I won't succeed at, so [I'm] taking the challenge with just a clear-eyed view," Moore said. "Just going in, optimistic about everything and ... trying to work as hard as I can to prove 'em right."

[RELATED: What Verrett ankle injury means for 49ers' Witherspoon]

Moore embraced the idea of playing a new position last season, and said Thursday he was happy to play anywhere in the defensive backfield. He has taken the same approach returning to a familiar one during his second training camp, allowing him to fill in during Ward's absence.

If Moore continues to improve, he might end up staying there, too.

How 49ers' Tarvarius Moore embraces challenge of moving back to safety originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area