Kyle Shanahan only coached Dre Kirkpatrick on the field for four games this season with the San Francisco 49ers before the team decided to waive the former 2012 first round cornerback on Tuesday, November 16.
Kirkpatrick was on the 49ers’ field for 95 total snaps according to Pro Football Focus, but his coverage grades each game never surpassed a 59.4 grade.
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There was also this botched tackle attempt by Kirkpatrick in his last appearance as a 49er:
But was Kirkpatrick’s coverage lapses and overall defensive ability a big reason why Shanahan and the 49ers decided it was best to go a different direction with the 6-foot-2, 190-pound defender?
Shanahan revealed the real reasoning behind the move to the Bay Area media.
49ers Had Too Many Corners
Shanahan insisted that Kirkpatrick’s departure had nothing to do with his performance. Rather, more to do with some brief overcrowded-ness at the cornerback spot.
“We’ve just been one over at corner for a while and there’s only so long you can take it,” Shanahan explained. “We usually only have six on our roster, five up on game day. And so we’ve just been going extra with the two rookies that we have on and we knew we wouldn’t have the luxury of keeping those guys all year (plus) bring in two guys back from IR (injured reserve). With some more guys coming back, we knew we had to make that decision sooner or later.”
The guys coming back Shanahan referred to? Dre Greenlaw and Jaquiski Tartt — the former being out of action since the season opening road win over the Detroit Lions and the latter returning to practice this week in preparation for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Does it mean both will see action?
“Hopefully, if they have a good week of practice,” Shanahan said. “Their practice windows are starting this week and hopefully they’re good enough to go on Sunday.”
But back to the CB room, the 49ers did roll with three active corners for the Rams game without Kirkpatrick in the lineup.
How Did Each CB Fare versus Rams?
Without the tall presence of Kirkpatrick, here’s a look at how all three cornerbacks handled the Rams’ lineup of targets with stats via PFF:
K’Waun Williams: The slot CB Williams drew the most coverages on Rams breakout WR Cooper Kupp. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Williams surrendered every catch thrown his way when lined up over Kupp, totaling in seven grabs for 60 yards. However, Kupp only averaged 8.6 yards a catch against the 30-year-old and was held out of the end zone for only the fourth time this season.
Emmanuel Moseley: The left CB was targeted eight times by Matthew Stafford, surrendering five catches for 57 yards and allowing an average of 11.4 yards a catch. Moseley, though, broke up one pass when going against Kupp.
Josh Norman: The 33-year-old veteran was the corner who gave up the most yardage (74), most average yards a catch (18.5) and first downs (four) on the evening at Levi’s Stadium.
The trio of 49er cornerback options that MNF evening were responsible for 20 receptions and 204 of Stafford’s 243 yards. But, not one surrendered a TD. Oh, Odell Beckham Jr. — in his highly-anticipated Rams debut — caught just two passes for 18 yards and had one football picked off in front of him.