UNITED STATES—Having recorded a team-leading 87 tackles for Southern Mississippi during the 2017 season, Tarvarius Moore was on the radar of many teams ahead of the 2018 draft. Despite interest from elsewhere, the Niners won the battle, securing the services of the 6-foot-2 safety in the third round. With versatility one of his greatest assets, Moore was always expected to fulfil backup duties during his rookie campaign, however, the 23-year old is now entering his third season in San Francisco, and he still hasn’t found his perfect role. He remains primary back-up to starting free safety Jimmie Ward, although with an abundance of untapped potential, 49ers fans would like to see far more of the talented defensive back in 2020.
The prospects looked extremely promising for Moore ahead of the 2019 season. With the aforementioned Ward sustaining a collarbone injury in mid-May, the backup safety was asked to deputize, and many fans predicted that he may be able to make the position his own. However, it didn’t go according to plan, with the luckless second year being replaced by the returning Ward after just three games.
He was used sporadically throughout the remainder of the campaign, and proved his worth as no.3 safety in the occasional “big nickel” setup. His most notable moment of the campaign came in the Super Bowl when he picked off the Chief’s QB Patrick Mahomes by cleverly intercepting the pass to Darwin Thompson. He also made a key play to put his side in control, however it wasn’t enough to seal the victory.
Unfortunately, his contribution proved to be purely academic, with the Chief’s running out 31-20 winners. Had his side held on, Moore would have surely been in with a shout of MVP, an achievement which very few analysts could have possibly predicted. With Super Bowl being the biggest sports betting day of the year, and the MVP market just one of hundreds of ways to wager on the event, the safety’s almost-pivotal contribution is highly unlikely to have had much support from users of online sportsbooks.
Although his numbers for the 2019 season are fairly average, his eye-catching performance in Florida has surely put him in contention for a more prominent role this time around.
Although he has spent the last two seasons as a very competent backup, Moore will be desperate to establish himself as a regular starter. The aforementioned “big nickel” setup is becoming increasingly common in NFL, and it’s a formation which suits bigger, rangier safeties. However, there is no guarantee that defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will utilize this system on a weekly basis.
He is viewed as a long-term option at safety, yet frustratingly for the 23-year old, Jimmie Ward has just been signed to a three-year contract.
Some fans have even suggested moving the versatile performer to cornerback. Although this is far from his best position, the 49ers aren’t particularly blessed with too much quality in this area of the pitch. He spent his first season deputizing in this role, and although throughout college he was solely deployed as safety, he looks more than capable of stepping up.
Saleh has previously suggested that the door is still open for Moore to revert back to cornerback if required, and it appears to be a move which makes sense for both parties.
Alternatively, he may simply wish to be patient, and await his chance to shine. He is likely to get some minutes on the pitch this season, and with his Super Bowl performance fresh in the mind of the coaches, he should be given a slightly more prominent role in 2020.
Tarvarius Moore certainly has plenty of potential, but he is yet to find his niche with the Niners. Although there is slightly less expectation on the shoulders of third round picks, the fans still believe that they haven’t seen the best of the former Southern Mississippi safety. This could be a pivotal twelve months for the defensive back.