NASHVILLE – How fast is Darryl Morris?
He's the fastest among 53 49ers.
This, according to a fellow rookie defensive back, albeit a more heralded one.
"I played with a guy named Patrick Peterson a little bit," safety Eric Reid said with a smile, referencing his LSU teammate-turned-Arizona Cardinals play-maker, "but Morris is definitely up there."
Morris' speed – and his timing as a result of it – helped the 49ers close out the Tennessee Titans, 31-17, on Sunday afternoon.
How good was No. 40's timing?
Morris wasn't even supposed to be on the field. With veteran C.J. Spillman, the 49ers stalwart special teams gunner, taking reps at safety for the temporarily injured Donte Whitner, Morris was the next man up with six-plus minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
"If C.J. is playing a lot on defense or Kassim (Osgood) is playing a lot on offense, I'll go in there and help the team as much as I can," Morris said. "C.J. and Kassim do a great job as our gunners. It goes down the line, so I went in for (Spillman on special teams) and I was able to make a play."
PHOTOS: 49ERS VS. TITANS
This was just the third occasion all season that Morris served as the team's gunner on punt coverage. He served this purpose twice on Sunday and once in the 49ers Week 4 win at St. Louis.
"I got down there, he didn't call a fair catch and as soon as he was catching it, I'm there," Morris said of Titans returner Darius Reynaud. "Sometimes the timing can be off. I can get there a little early, or be too far back. Thankfully I was able to make a play. The ball squirted out somehow. That was a great recovery by Osgood for the touchdown."
Jim Harbaugh went a step further.
"Dream play by Darryl Morris and Kassim Osgood," the coach said. "It looked like an arrow going through snow. That was 4.3 speed and Kassim fell on top of a mistake."
Morris' speed – he ran a 4.33 at his Texas State pro day – is the primary reason he was on the field at all and, in part, why he was promoted from the practice squad on Sept. 24.
Reid, San Francisco's first-round pick last April and a starter from Week 1, is no slow-poke himself, but he knows a speedster when he sees one.
"He's definitely the fastest person on the team and that's why he's getting his shot," said Reid, who left Sunday's game briefly with an ankle injury before returning. "He's been making plays every day in practice so he's definitely coming along. We all know he has the ability to make plays, and he showed that today."
The way Reid fought his way toward an Opening Day start, Morris battled for a simple roster spot. He came up short, at least the first three weeks of the season, before earning his promotion.
This doesn't mean Morris can only play on the punt and kickoff units.
"He fully understands his role right now and that's to be a special teams guy," Reid said. "If something happens – you never know with the length of the season – he may get his chance at corner, and he'll be ready for it."
For his part, Morris is modest if not content. Yes, he wants to play cornerback, too, but he's come this far.
And he's so quick, he can get away with a quick glance back.
"It's just a blessing to be a part of such a prestigious organization like this," Morris said. "I mean, the 49ers. Such a cool team. If you would get to pick a team to play for, it would be the 49ers.
"I just want to help the team so if I have to do it by running down on special teams, I will."