The San Francisco 49ers are in do-or-die mode, and that means it’s all hands on deck in Santa Clara.
That includes defensive back Emmanuel Moseley. Moseley has started just 10 games at corner this season due to injury, but the 49ers defender is set to make his return this Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams after missing the past few games with a high ankle sprain, per the Niners.
The practice window was opened, but it was unsure if Moseley would be able to suit up. After head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch’s recent updates, it’s clear he’s playing.
According to David Lombardi, Lynch said on KNBR that the team is also expecting to get other parts of the secondary back as well. Safety Jimmie Ward and corners Dontae Johnson, Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir are all expected to return for Sunday.
“I believe we will [get DBs back off the Covid list],” Lynch said. “We’re forecasting that we’ll have some of those guys back… But we’re preparing for every scenario, whether we have them or not.”
So not a definite for that group, but Lynch wouldn’t be making comments like that if he didn’t feel confident in them returning. Having all the available options will be crucial against the Rams passing attack.
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49ers Corner Benched, Moseley to Replace?
When Moseley has been healthy this year, he’s started, so it’s safe to say that someone is hitting the bench. Based on last Sunday, it feels as if the likely name taking a seat is Josh Norman.
The veteran corner has struggled this year, allowing a 110.6 passer rating and a 66.7 catch rate per PFR. This came to a head in the 23-7 win over the Houston Texans last weekend when Shanahan benched Norman and then confirmed it in the post-game press conference.
The Rams boast a talented passing group between quarterback Matthew Stafford and receivers Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson and Odell Beckham Jr. Moseley is returning for a daunting task, but the Niners can’t have the breakdowns in this game that Norman has consistently caused all season.
Who Starts Opposite of Moseley
Like Norman, Ambry Thomas has also struggled this year. However, Thomas is a rookie that is learning in the fast lane, where Norman is an established veteran. More importantly, Thomas has gotten visibly better as the weeks have gone on.
If he is healthy on Sunday, Thomas should be getting the call to start opposite of Moseley. After a trial by fire in his first two starts, allowing 9 catches on 14 targets for two touchdowns and 187 yards, he has responded with impressive performances in back-to-back games.
Against the Texans and Titans, he’s mustered a combined 63.4 passer rating, and the three catches he’s given up have gone for 50 total yards. It’s been night and day, and the kind of immediate progress every NFL team wants to see from their young players.
However, Thomas is in for an immense challenge on Sunday and it will be interesting to see how the Rams attack him. Los Angeles knows he lacks experience, so they’ll look to test him.