A go-route from Tyreek Hill welcomed Rashard Robinson to the preseason. That's almost cruel. The NFL's fastest man got the best of the San Francisco 49ers cornerback on the game's first play from scrimmage. The deep pass resulted in a 32-yard gain for the Kansas City Chiefs.
It got worse before it got better.
Six plays later, Robinson had a chance to hold the Chiefs to a field goal. A missed tackle against Spencer Ware allowed the running back to get a first down. He went for a "kill shot" instead of making a sure tackle. Robinson got beat again on the following drive by Chris Conley for a 29-yard completion.
But it did get better. Following the pass to Conley, Robinson stopped Ware for no gain on the very next play. Two snaps later, the corner intercepted Tyler Bray and returned it 30 yards to the Chiefs 25-yard line.
That resilience is what Robert Saleh took away from Friday night's win.
"Not every corner can respond the way he did," the defensive coordinator said on Monday. "For a young guy, 22-years-old, to have all that happen to him and to show the resolve, the fight, and the dog that we've talked about with him… for me, that stamped everything that Rashard is going to be for us. He's going to be a very good corner."
Robinson, an expressive player who doesn't shy away from trash talk, has clearly learned to harness his emotions. To echo Saleh, that maturity is quite remarkable.
"Playing DB, you have to have a short-term memory," Robinson said. "If you give up a pass, you've just got to make up for it. You've got to keep your composure."
It would have been easy to sulk to the sideline following Kansas City's opening drive touchdown. Instead, Robinson took the opportunity to tell his teammates he'd atone for his mistakes.
"I'm going to make up for it," he told them. "I've got y'all."
Robinson reiterated on Monday that he welcomes all challengers. He knows he will be tested early and often during his sophomore campaign. Every corner gets beat – tis the nature of a position that features so many 1-on-1 bouts.
"You can't feel bad for yourself," Robinson said. "You can't feel any type of pity for yourself. (Your teammates) are counting on you to go out there and play ball."
The 2016 fourth-round pick has already flourished into a cornerstone of San Francisco's defense. Robinson's maturity and mental toughness shows he's ready for those expectations.