49ers rookie Tarvarius Moore on switch from safety to corner: 'Going to be a process'
The 49ers drafted a cornerback they will play at safety and a safety they want to move to cornerback.
Don't worry. The players involved aren't confused.
Third-round pick Tarvarius Moore, for example, played safety at Southern Mississippi largely because there were older, established players at cornerback when he first arrived.
But his 6-foot-2 height, long arms and especially his speed – he ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash during his pro-day workout in March – convinced the 49ers he would be a better fit at outside cornerback where his length and tackling ability are coveted.
General manager John Lynch said moving Moore to cornerback is "no doubt a projection" but that they saw enough examples of him in Southern Mississippi's defense, which emphasizes man-to-man coverage, that they think he can make the switch.
"You've got to have to be able to run to play corner in this league," Lynch said. "He can flat-out run and he's got the length and all that."
Two rounds after Moore was selected, the 49ers took 5-foot-9 D.J. Reed, who played outside cornerback at Kansas State.
Reed will compete with K'Waun Williams at nickel cornerback and he'll also practice at free safety, which he did during Friday's rookie minicamp practice.
The 49ers' top free safety this spring is Adrian Colbert. Jimmie Ward can play there, too, but coaches want to see if he can play cornerback. That means there potentially is plenty of room for someone like Reed to make an impression at the position.
Moore, meanwhile, is a rare Day 2 draft pick who didn't get invited to the scouting combine in Indianapolis. He said there were a few teams, including the 49ers, who showed interest in him early. His popularity, however, exploded after his impressive pro day, and he went on visits to 13 teams who were scrambling to learn more about him.
Moore said he met with a different team practically every day from April 1st through the 18th. He was home for two days during that span.
"And that was just to wash clothes and hop right back on the plane the next day," he said.
Moore said he sensed the 49ers weren't thrilled with his standout pro-day performance, which also included a vertical jump of 39 1/2 inches and a broad jump of 11 feet, 1 inch. After all, that meant Moore, who was projected as a seventh-round pick entering the 2017 season, no longer was a secret.
"I probably was an under-the-radar guy," Moore said. "Not a lot of teams knew a lot about me. And if they did, they tried to keep it under wraps. But after my pro day I definitely opened a lot of eyes and I was no longer that guy that you could just sweep under the rug."
Fred Dean's grandson – One of the 49ers' tryout candidates, Darren Crawford, is the grandson of former 49ers defensive end, Fred Dean, who was one of the team's original "elephant" ends. Dean, who entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008, once had 17 1/2 sacks in a season.
The 49ers certainly could use that type of pass-rush prowess in their defense. Crawford, however, is a 5-10 defensive back who played at Southern Arkansas. He grew up in Ruston, La., where his grandfather is a legend and where he heard plenty of stories.
"All the time," Crawford said with a big smile. '''Your pop-pop was a mean dude. Your pop-pop was very aggressive.' Man, I heard a million stories. A million stories."
Et cetera – Among the local players who tried out were UC Davis offensive lineman Julian Bertero, who also attended the 49ers' local pro day last month, and Sacramento State linebacker Ben Sorenson.
▪ Stanford safety Ed Reynolds stood out among the tryout players because he's 26 and was a fifth-round draft pick by the Eagles in 2014. Reynolds also has played for the Cleveland Browns, but has appeared in so few regular-season games that he was eligible for the rookie camp.
▪ Nick Mullens, who spent last season on the 49ers' practice squad, served as quarterback in Friday's practice along with Dartmouth's Jack Heneghan. Another veteran, Andrew Lauderdale, also was eligible. He played left tackle while first-round pick Mike McGlinchey lined up at right tackle.