Running back and defensive back were the areas that played key roles in the 49ers’ impressive Week 7 victory over the New England Patriots.
Those spots will be right back in the spotlight on Sunday in a pivotal NFC West matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf will provide a stiff challenge to the 49ers’ cornerbacks and safeties on Sunday.
And on the other side of the ball, the 49ers’ running backs – whomever they might be – will be expected to keep the team’s ground game rolling as a major part of its offensive puzzle.
This week, the three overreactions (or are they?) focus on those two areas of the team:
There is no way that a fully cleared, fully healthy Richard Sherman spends a game on the sideline as a spectator. That is not going to happen. But your bigger point has been made: The 49ers have three good cornerbacks when Sherman is healthy. The problem is the 49ers do not expect Sherman to be available for action until late-November due to a calf condition that has kept him out since Week 1.
Remember, how the 49ers’ cornerback situation looked just a couple of weeks ago? Brian Allen had to start a game at cornerback. It was not pretty.
On Tuesday, the 49ers waived Allen from the practice squad.
Jason Verrett has played at a high level from the moment he replaced Sherman in Week 2. Emmanuel Moseley is a solid player who figures to have a long NFL career as a starter. He has performed at a high level in the two games since his return from a concussion.
This is an intriguing topic, in part, because the 49ers will have to make some decisions about how to construct their roster for next season.
The team will definitely try to lock up Verrett and Moseley for 2021. Sherman is scheduled for free agency, and his status for the remainder of this season and beyond is a lot less defined.
The running backs on the 49ers’ roster are there for a reason. Clearly, Kyle Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner believe all the players in their building have the attributes to thrive in the 49ers’ system.
But, right now, the 49ers are down to Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty as the only healthy backs on the team. Those two players are also the most similar in size and style.
Tevin Coleman will be back soon from a knee injury. The 49ers could open the window for him to begin practicing this week. His return would be huge for the team because of the threat he supplies between the tackles. Once Coleman is back on the field, he will help make McKinnon and Hasty more effective.
All the 49ers’ running backs can enjoy success in Shanahan’s system. But, for instance, Mostert’s unique skills give him a better chance of producing big plays than the others.
Mostert’s talents as a running back will be missed for as long as he is out of the lineup. But the 49ers’ running backs still can contribute to victories with a big assist from the design of the offense.
Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt are the 49ers’ best safeties. But Tarvarius Moore and Marcell Harris provide the defensive backfield with a pair of backups who are capable of stepping in and picking up the slack.
Moore-Harris might not be better than Ward-Tartt, but the drop off was certainly not noticeable against New England. Both played well. They had six tackles apiece. Moore broke up a pass.
It was a great opportunity for Moore and Harris to dip their toes into the action because New England’s outside threats, Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers, are not exactly upper-echelon talents.
With more experience, Moore and Harris will continue to learn the defense and become more reliable. With a lowering salary cap and a lot of scheduled free agents, it seems likely one of them will be in the 49ers’ Week 1 starting lineup next season.