There is a void in the San Francisco 49ers linebacking corps, and third-year linebacker Nick Moody is looking to fill it.
Patrick Willis and stud rookie Chris Borland retired this offseason, leaving NaVarro Bowman without a running mate in the 49ers 3-4 defense. Moody said he was surprised by the moves, but took it as an opportunity he needed to get more playing time and make a play at the starting spot next to Bowman:
“At first I was surprised they both retired but at the same time I was like alright I got an opportunity to get more of a chance to play, got to take advantage of it.”
A sixth-round pick in 2013 out of Florida State Moody has made strides at linebacker after previously playing safety in college. Last season, he played in all 16 games, starting two.
The playing time helped him notice and correct flaws on the field. Yes, the 6-foot-1 Moody can run and hit, but he lacked the basic technique and fundamentals to be an inside linebacker. He believes he understands the position now:
“I definitely understand the linebacker position more than I use to, even the little nuances, the smallest things. Picking up the fundamental part I know I can run and all that I’ve shown I can run but the biggest part is anticipating in a scheme and taking those same fundamentals and applying them to the game.”
Moody took advice from former teammate Willis, following his words of wisdom to always study and don’t let anything outside bother his game:
“He always told me don’t let outside things get to you and if something is bothering you don’t be obvious about it. You’re body language says a lot. He always said to keep faith and harped on the fundamentals and study and it will all come together.”
Defensive lineman Darnell Dockett has been working out this offseason with Moody and said he is very impressed. Since January, Dockett has kept his eye on the hungry linebacker and believes he’s had the best offseason he has seen. In an organization that has had great linebackers like Willis and Bowman in recent years, Dockett feels why not Moody:
“He’s the first one in and last person to leave. He’s asking questions. He’s doing things outside of football to take care of his body. I walked in today he was actually by himself watching film. You’ve been in an organization that had Patrick Willis and NaVarro Bowman guys like that. Its kind of like why not him.”
Moody is known to run through anyone who gets between him and the football. Moody believes he’s always had that aggressiveness and love for contact since he was playing football on the playground of his elementary school. The sport was even banned when he was in the second grade due to his aggressiveness, according to Moody:
“I’ve always liked contact since I was a little kid, it was fun to me. That’s the fun part of football. In my elementary school they banned football because we hit too much probably because of me.”
Moody feels his athleticism and coverage skills are the strongest part of his game and givehim an advantage in trying to earn his spot next to Bowman:
“It definitely helps that’s my background. I’m in my comfort zone. It’s pretty much normal to me because that’s what I’ve done.”