When training camp began last month, Marlon Moore figured his route to making the roster was through special teams. After all, that's how he lasted three seasons with the Dolphins.
But in his first-ever game with the 49ers on Thursday, Moore didn't play special teams. Instead he started the game at wideout opposite Anquan Boldin, played eight snaps and, along with the rest of the starters, watched the game on the sideline from the middle of the first quarter onward.
Moore today admitted it was a bit of a mixed blessing. "Because like I said, I like to play special teams," he said. "I love just playing football period. And not being able to be in and contribute during that time of the game it kind of hurt me. But at the same time, I was like, 'Alright, maybe they're recognizing something about me.' So I just have to take it and keep pressing forward."
Along with Chad Hall, the Sacramento native has been the most consistent wide receiver this offseason, and that's what earned him a starting role against the Broncos. Moore has been durable, he's made gritty catches across the middle and he also has the speed to stretch defenses, something the 49ers are seeking this season.
He made a 45-yard catch in Monday's practice on a rare pass that was underthrown by Kaepernick. "Speed guy. He is a deep threat for this team," rookie safety Eric Reid said of Moore. "Yesterday he caught a nice ball on the sideline. He's reliable. We can send him down the field and throw him the ball."
Moore also has started to develop a nice rapport with Kaepernick. Part of that, it seems, is because Moore has taken the same gritty, blue-collar he uses as a special teams gunner and applied it to wideout.
"Me and Kap - we've been cool since college," said Moore, whose Fresno State teams faced Kaepernick and Nevada three times. "I always tell him, 'If you throw it up, I'm going to do my best to make a play for you. It's either coming to me or nobody's going to get it.' That's the mindset that we have. If he throws that ball up, it's mine. And I've got to go get it for him no matter what."
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio today said he didn't expect his two injured rookie defensive linemen, Tank Carradine (knee) and Quinton Dial (toe), to return to practice soon, and he said it's possible both will be on the non-football injury list to start the season.
Fangio said that shouldn't be a surprise. "When we drafted those two guys, this was the picture that was painted," he said. Carradine was an early, second-round pick; Dial was taken in the fifth round.
Fangio said he was pleased with how undrafted rookie cornerback Darryl Morris has played recently and said Morris has a chance to stick around this season. He also said Tarell Brown had a good first practice in the nickel position on Monday ... Fangio has not determined who will start at free safety Friday in Kansas City. Reid said his lower back, which tightened in Saturday's practice, is feeling better after a visit with the chiropractor.
-- Matt Barrows