49ers secondary impresses at training camp thanks to increased competition

49ers secondary impresses at training camp thanks to increased competition

SANTA CLARA — After last season’s secondary woes, the 49ers appear to be back in business.

The defensive backfield showed out during the second practice of training camp on Thursday with seven pass break-ups and four interceptions, much to defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans’ delight.

“It’s a lot of encouragement,” Ryans said. “Really excited and happy about the unit that we have … All those guys have done a great job. They’re off to a really good start, and all we’re looking for out of those guys is to continue to compete and continue to get better each and every day.

“If they do that, when we open the season up we’ll be very happy with where those guys will be.”

Every first-team defensive back had either a pick or PBU on Thursday, and Ryans specifically honed in on several starters — mainly offseason addition Charvarius Ward, who has yet to allow a completion from the cornerback position in camp, and veteran CB Emmanuel Moseley, who Ryans applauded for his consistency heading into the season.

Ward was brought to the 49ers for his press man coverage, which the team severely lacked last season. On Thursday, he showed his perimeter prowess when he went step-for-step with wide receiver Jauan Jennings, breaking up a deep sideline pass from quarterback Trey Lance. 

Coaches and players alike are impressed by what they’ve seen from Ward so far, and Ryans credits a new feel in the DB room to the corner’s competitiveness.

 

“He’s come in and done exactly everything we’ve asked him to do,” Ryans said. “He’s competitive … He’s always challenging the guys across from him, challenging the guys in the room. It has raised our competition level in the DB room and I’m happy to have it. The more competition, I think the better all those guys get.

“So that’s what Charvarius has done. He’s raised the level of competition in there and guys know they have to step up, rise to his level.”

Lance has noticed Ward’s swagger, too.

“Mooney’s super talented, and he knows it, man,” Lance said Thursday. “The way he carries himself around the locker room, a natural leader, just a guy that the guys gravitate towards for sure, and on the field obviously you can see what he does.”

Moseley, who figures to start on the outside with Ward, carried momentum from his two PBUs on Day One of camp into Day Two with another on Thursday. And from safety, Talanoa Hufanga had an excellent PBU of his own on Thursday, while Jimmie Ward accounted for Lance’s lone interception on the day.

After Jason Verrett’s injury to start last season, the secondary’s lack of depth turned into a problem for San Francisco. The 49ers await the veteran corner’s return, but now benefit from a deep room and newfound confidence from second-year pros Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir. 

“I think they’re a lot [more] confident this year,” Moseley said of the pair on Wednesday after practice. “Just the way they’re moving on the field and communication. They’re talking to the younger guys because now they’re in their second year, so they feel like vets.

“I tell them they’re not vets yet.”

Far from being vets are rookie corners Samuel Womack and Tariq Castro-Fields, who are taking in all they can during their first camp.

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“They’re going to be really good,” Moseley said of the pair. “… They’re always coming up to me like, ‘Hey, what can I get better at?’ They go to [Charvarius] Ward, they go to the rest of the older guys in the room and they’re listening, and you can see it on the field. From OTAs just to this camp right here, you can already see it and I’m ready to work with those guys, see what they can do.”

From top to bottom, the DB room is in a much better spot than it was to end the 2021 season. There are still questions at the nickel back position, however, left vacant by the departure of K’Waun Williams.

But with Verrett anticipated to eventually return, the room’s depth will only increase.

 

If their enthusiasm and output during training camp so far is any indication, there figures to be a huge improvement in the backfield once the season kicks off.

Let the competition begin.

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