ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Four days into training camp, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh offered a stark assessment of Tarvarius Moore's short-term possibilities.
“He’s by no means even close to being an NFL-ready safety by Week 1,” Saleh said.
Two weeks later, Moore is getting noticeably closer to being capable of holding down a key role in the 49ers’ defense for the start of the regular season.
“He’s made tremendous strides from just getting aligned, being more vocal, giving out alerts, talking to the linebackers, talking to the safeties, talking to the corners, even talking to the D-Line which he has to do at safety,” Saleh said of Moore on Friday after the 49ers’ joint practice with the Denver Broncos. “ ... He hasn’t scratched the ceiling yet, so he’s got to continue working. Every single rep there’s something new for him and he’s definitely going in the right direction, so I’m pumped for him.”
The 49ers are taking their time bringing along Jimmie Ward after he fractured his collarbone during the offseason program in June. Two weeks ago, Moore moved past Adrian Colbert on the depth chart at free safety. Now, he has put himself in position to supplant Ward, too.
Moore was a third-round draft pick from Southern Mississippi in 2018. He spent his entire rookie season at cornerback before moving back to safety following Ward’s injury.
On Wednesday, he intercepted Jimmy Garoppolo twice during a three-play sequence. On Friday, he intercepted Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco on a pass intended for Emmanuel Sanders.
Ward has been cleared to return to practice, but the 49ers are bringing him back slowly. His time as a spectator has allowed Moore an opportunity to open some eyes. And Moore certainly is giving the 49ers’ coaching staff something to think about.
“It’s definitely something to talk about,” Saleh said. “Tarvarius had the door open. We always talk about, if you get your foot in the door, it’s your job to blow that thing open. He’s doing a good job. He’s going to make it very difficult.”