Rashard Robinson could feel himself having a strong week of practice, knowing full well the reward that was there for the taking.
Jim O'Neil explicitly told reporters that whoever had the better week of preparation between Robinson and Keith Reaser would start in place of the injured Jimmie Ward. The San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator reiterated that neither cornerback had earned the No. 3 job outright.
Robinson found out towards the end of the week that he would be the one to get the nod against the Dallas Cowboys. And the rookie didn't disappoint.
The LSU product had previously seen 45 snaps through the team's first three games, but he was yet to have a throw come his way. That changed against the Cowboys as Dak Prescott didn't shy away from challenging Robinson.
In all, Robinson was targeted six times. The corner allowed three catches for a mere 20 yards and broke up three passes.
"I felt good about my performance," Robinson said postgame. "Being able to go out there and compete for a ball, it was a good feeling."
One of the PBUs was a play in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Robinson knocked the ball out of Brice Butler's hands, which forced the Cowboys to settle for a field goal and kept the 49ers within one score.
"I'm using my tools and everything coach taught us the whole week of practice," Robinson said. "I knew he had to be doing something to the outside by the way he was lined up. I just played with my fundamentals to attack the ball and be aggressive."
Pro Football Focus gave Robinson exemplary marks for his performance. The corner's 92.5 grade was the highest of any player on either team. The film analysis website also ranked Robinson as the No. 8 overall player in Week 4 and have him slotted as their fourth-ranked rookie in 2016.
That's high praise.
"I thought he had a very solid game for his first start," O'Neil said. "He still's got a long way to go as far as technique and growing in the scheme and all that, but we were happy with him as a coaching staff."
Robinson also caught the attention of Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians.
"He's got some length and speed, good-looking player," Arians said on Tuesday in his conference call with Bay Area reporters. "Those kids who come out of LSU, they know how to play and they know how to play man-to-man. He does not look like a rookie out there."
If Ward misses Thursday night's contest against the Cardinals, Robinson would jump at the chance for an encore against Arizona's talented crop of pass-catchers.
"The confidence is always going to be there," Robinson said. "I've just got to go out and keep playing ball."