LAKE FOREST — When Darnell Mooney takes the field on Sunday against the 49ers, there is a good chance he will see someone with the same name lined up across from him.
Charvarius Ward, the 49ers’ free-agent acquisition cornerback, also goes by the name “Mooney.”
The Bears’ wide receiver first heard about this news from one of his former teammates.
“I had a guy, BoPete Keyes, he got drafted and me and him were in the same class and we went to the same school obviously and I seen him post on his Instagram, ‘yeah my guy Mooney,’ but he didn’t tag me so who is he talking about?” Darnell said. “So, I’ve seen him and I’ve been watching him for a while.”
What Mooney sees on film is a cornerback that has good feet and someone who plays with patience. That’s why this offseason Ward signed a 3-year, $40.5 million contract with the 49ers after playing four seasons in Kansas City.
Ward is also someone who was asked to shadow opposing No. 1 wide receivers at times with the Chiefs. If that happens in the Week 1 matchup at Soldier Field, Mooney will be more than ready.
“I love that,” Mooney said. “Obviously when you have one-on-one battles throughout the whole game and you’re not winning most of the time and you’re a DB, that will get to your head. Even if it’s a run play and I just do a route or something like that, and he knows, ‘I just got beat on that.’ He’ll be thinking about that all the time like, ‘I just got beat, I got to be patient.’ Then next time I’m just gone. It’s all a chess game. Sometimes he may win, sometimes he may not. It’s going to be a chess game. I’m pretty good at chess too.”
Mooney caught 81 passes for 1,055 yards and four touchdowns in 2021, so it’s clear the third-year wide receiver has figured out how to play chess with opposing corners. But Ward can also play the game, given the payday he received and how he fared against some of the top wide receivers last season.
Sunday will be the first time Mooney will go up against Ward, and they’re primed to see each other often throughout the game. Even though Mooney may lose on a rep, that’s ok in his eyes because he’s still gathering intel that could help him later on.
“The game always comes down to one or two plays that somebody had messed up on,” Mooney said. “If you can have that one or two plays and make that a big explosive, then – man – I think you won.”