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SANTA CLARA — Miscommunication.

Tarvarius Moore was certain he knew where the 49ers intended to play him when they drafted him in the third round of the NFL draft last Friday.

“Definitely safety,” he said on a conference call.

Definitely not.

The 49ers will play Moore at cornerback next season, which comes as a surprise, and not just to him. Moore is a free safety — that’s where he played at Southern Mississippi. College safeties rarely become successful corners in the NFL. Cornerback is a more difficult position to play than safety.

Generally speaking, defensive backs move from safety to corner, not the other way around. Think Ronnie Lott, who was an All-Pro cornerback for the 49ers before he became an All-Pro safety.

“I have no problem playing corner, so let’s try it out and give it my best and see what happens,” Moore said Friday in the 49ers’ media room before rookie minicamp. “A lot of teams showed interest in me playing corner as well for the same reasons — long arms, fast, good feet, good hips. I felt like that was a position I was going to have to learn or transition to.”

Moore fits the physical profile of a cornerback in the 49ers’ defensive scheme. He’s off the charts. He’s tall (6-foot-2), he has long arms (33⅛ inches) and he’s fast. He ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at his pro day. He would have been one of the fastest, most athletic players at the NFL Scouting Combine had the league invited him. It didn’t.

“I probably was an under-the-radar guy,” Moore said. “Not a lot of teams knew a lot about me. And if they did, they were trying to keep it under wraps. But, after my pro day, I was no longer that guy that you could just sweep under the rug.”

Before his phenomenal pro day, Moore never expected to be a third-round pick. “I thought I would have been a late-round pick,” Moore said. “I was projected seventh round or priority free agent. I thought I had a chance to make a team. I knew I had to have a good season to give myself every advantage, and I feel like I did that.”

Moore recorded three interceptions, 10 pass breakups and 87 tackles in 2017 — his only season as a starter at Southern Mississippi.

The 49ers noticed. They had Moore on their radar during the season. “They were definitely clued in before the pro day,” Moore said. “We kept in touch a lot. I can remember some days (49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley) calling three or four times asking questions, like did I feel comfortable playing corner? Things of that sort.”

The 49ers thought Moore was their secret, their sleeper. Someone they might get late in the draft. That all changed when he ran a 4.32. “(Hafley) was kind of upset when I ran that and everybody else found out about me,” Moore said.

The secret was out — no reason for the 49ers to hide their feelings about Moore any longer. So they tried to bring him to the team’s facility for a pre-draft visit. By that point, he was already booked. He had 13 pre-draft visits with other NFL teams.

“I was gone for about three weeks,” Moore said. “During that stretch, I only had two days that I went home, and that was just to watch clothes and hop right on the plane the next day.”

The 49ers drafted Moore anyway, even though they couldn’t officially meet with him. They liked him that much.

Now they have to teach him a new position. Or, an old position, depending on how Moore sees it. “I played corner in high school to begin with,” Moore said. “It was my first position, and then I got switched over to safety around my senior year. Definitely have some corner experience. Just got to knock some dust off, I guess.”

In addition to his corner experience, Moore said he used cornerback techniques in college, even though he didn’t play cornerback.

“We played a lot of man (coverage at Southern Miss),” Moore said. “And we played a lot of quarters (coverage) that turned into man. So, that man background is there. It’s definitely something I’m comfortable with.”

Moore often covered slot receivers and tight ends who lined up in the middle of the offensive formation. Next season, he’ll have to cover wide receivers who line up near the sideline. Big difference.

What will be the biggest transition? “My footwork,” Moore said. “The footwork is different from safety and corner. Just being patient, keeping my feet under me, using my hands a little bit more than I did at safety.”

Moore knows what he has to do. Whether he can do what he has to do is another story.

“(They’re) just starting me out at corner, just try to get my feet wet, see how everything goes,” Moore said. “They know it’s going to be a transition process, but I’m ready for it.”

And if he isn’t ready for it, the 49ers will move him back to safety.

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