Talented Moore faces stiff competition for starting spot

By James Darnell  |   Wednesday, May 31, 2006  |  Comments( 2 )

San Francisco 49ers
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Brandon Moore has been patient. Brandon Moore has been a team player.

Accepting his role with the team, whether as a reliable backup or special teams ace, Moore has done all that has been asked of him. However, with all that the fourth-year pro has done in limited duties, one thing he has never done is be a full-time starter.

Since being signed by the San Francisco 49ers as free agent in 2002, Moore has been watching the likes of Jamie Winborn, Julian Peterson, Andre Carter, Jeff Ulbrich, and Derek Smith take on prominent roles, while he just watched and learned, waiting for an opportunity. In 2005, Moore got his chance, when starting MLB Jeff Ulbrich suffered a season-ending injury in Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts. Playing in all 16 games last season, 10 in which he replaced Ulbrich at inside 'backer, Moore recorded career-highs of 71 tackles and was second on the team to Bryant Young with 5 sacks. Now, with Winborn gone via-trade at midseason, as well as Carter and Peterson lost in free agency, Moore had another chance to prove he wants to play for more than a backup role.

Everything had seemingly fallen into place for the talented linebacker to finally slip into a starting spot. That is, until the 2006 NFL Draft took place, and Moore's team took two players with the possibility to be placed ahead of him on the depth chart. In first-round pick Manny Lawson and fifth-rounder Parys Haralson, the team addressed needs in regards to their pass rush, as well as filling the void left by the departure of Carter and Peterson.

To only make matters worse, up-and-coming youngster Corey Smith has starred in the 49ers recent mini-camp, leaving Moore no longer as the odds-on favorite to take over Julian Peterson's LOLB spot. There has been some mumbling of moving Jeff Ulbrich outside and inserting Moore, but that still leaves the other outside spot to two rookies, as well as the unproven Corey Smith.

All in all, the San Francisco 49ers haven't seemed to have lost much in terms of depth to their linebacker group, in fact, it could be said that this current group has more talent and depth than any other compilation in recent memory. With two tenured starters in Ulbrich and Derek Smith, as well as the new "hybrid" type rookie defensive end/linebacker in Lawson, and rounding out the group with Corey Smith and Haralson, Moore could not only lose any grip he had on a starting job, he could also lose his spot in the rotation if he doesn't continue to show that he is able to do what it takes to play--all over again. However, over the course of his four-year career, there has never been any doubt in his ability to earn playing time. And it seems that if we see the same #56 that we have seen over the past four seasons, he should not only earn his starting spot, he should keep it.

Get more Brandon Moore insights at Realfootball365.com
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