Nick Moody Seizing Opportunity at Inside Linebacker

Jarryd Hayne told the media on Saturday that Nick Moody's pass-rushing style could be described as, "just run everybody over."

The San Francisco 49ers linebacker didn't disagree with Hayne's scouting report when asked about it on Tuesday.

"Most of the time, yeah." Moody said, drawing a laugh from the media.

Moody embraces contact, calling it, "The fun part of the game." The inside linebacker said that his physicality has always been his hallmark as a football player.

Some of the best images from day 3 of 49ers Training Camp presented by SAP

And he does mean always, going all the way back to his schoolyard games as a second grader at The Meadowbrook School in Meadowbrook, Pa.

"On the playground at my elementary school they actually banned football because we would hit too much," Moody said. "That was partly because of me."

Moody's violent disposition on the football field has turned heads thus far in 49ers training camp. The 'backer has seen increased reps in practice due to the absence of Michael Wilhoite, who is missing time with a muscle injury.

The promising start to camp comes on the heels of a 2014 season in which Moody played all 16 games, and made his first two career starts at the end of the year. He finished with 21 tackles for the year.

"I feel like it helped me a lot because it's a different feel and speed than it is in practice," Moody said. "You can simulate it, but it's still not the same. I feel like it helped a lot getting in-game experience, communication and general gameday feel."

The game experience in 2014 and the extra practice reps have helped Moody see his flaws, particularly in terms of the fundamentals and technique.

Moody has taken what he's seen on tape and applied it back to what linebackers coach Jason Tarver is preaching each day. His position coach, Moody said, stresses fundamentals and technique more than any coach the linebacker has had previously.

Tarver's relentless attention to detail has helped Moody progress in defensive coordinator Eric Mangini's 3-4 scheme.

"I'm definitely understanding inside linebacker much more than I used to," Moody said. "Even the little nuances and the smallest things, like to not cross your feet over, are the most fundamental things that were never harped on to me. It's stressed everyday."

Where Moody stands out among his peers is in pass coverage. The third-year linebacker out of Florida State played safety in college.

Those coverage skills were on full display Saturday night when Moody intercepted Blaine Gabbert in the team's first camp practice.

"It definitely helps because that's my background," he said. "I'm not out of my comfort zone because that's what I've always done."

Apart from Wilhoite being sidelined in camp, Moody was already set to see his opportunity this August due to the retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland. Moody, like the rest of his teammates, isn't harping on the losses but will always hold onto the lessons he learned from a legend like Willis.

"He always taught me to not let outside things get to you, and if something is bothering you, don't be so outward about it," Moody said. "Body language says a lot. He always told me to keep faith, harp on the fundamentals and to study."

No detail is lost on Moody, who has complete perspective of the carrot now dangling in front of him.

"I understand that completely," Moody said. "I understand the opportunity that's in front of me."

Others in the locker room have also noticed Moody's hunger to earn the starting job next to NaVorro Bowman.

Newly-acquired defensive tackle Darnell Dockett trained with Moody the entire offseason in Miami. Having been able to see the linebacker's progress from January until now, there may not be a better source on Moody's progression than Dockett.

The defensive tackle said he found Moody watching film by himself when he arrived to the 49ers facility Tuesday morning.

"He's had the best offseason I've seen of anybody," Dockett said. "He's the first one in and the last one to leave. He's asking questions and doing things outside of football to take care of his body. … I think that when you've been in an organization with NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis, you think 'Why not him?'

"I've seen the work that he's put in and I'm very impressed. I told him that the sky is the limit for him. I'm telling you so that if he goes out and has a big year, I won't be surprised. Anything less than that would be a disappointment because he's working his tail off."

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