SANTA CLARA – Cornerback Rashard Robinson has not lost his self-confidence.
“Oh, I’m still confident,” Robinson said. “That’s one thing, confidence is never going to go anywhere. I’m a competitor, so I want to go out there and compete. I want to go out there and get work.”
Robinson is a second-year pro whom former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke selected two spots ahead of Dak Prescott in the fourth round of last year’s draft. Against Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys last week, Robinson did not surrender a reception. (Rookie safety Adrian Colbert was out of position on Dez Bryant’s 2-yard touchdown catch.)
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But Robinson was called for two critical penalties during a four-play stretch that enabled the Cowboys to take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Robinson was flagged four times for pass interference in the first seven games, twice for illegal use of hands, once for illegal contact and once for holding.
“To be honest, sometimes it’s a 50-50,” Robinson said. “I can tell sometimes. There are other times, they push off. It’s just how they see it. I’m not going to sit there and say they’re just gunning for me or anything like that. But from the view they have, they see something different.”
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh suggested that Robinson would get more leeway from officials if he were stronger and could be more subtle while jostling for position with the ball in the air.
San Francisco 49ers
“Even though he may not be fouling, it just looks like there’s a big struggle going on and it just looks awkward in live situations,” Saleh said. “For Rashard, one of the biggest things he needs to improve is his overall strength, which I think will.”
Robinson checked in at 6-foot-1, 171 pounds at the NFL scouting combine in February 2016. He said in May he was up to 190 pounds. He is listed at 177 pounds on the 49ers’ roster.
Robinson dismissed the suggestion he needs to get stronger. He said he has all the tools to perform at a high level right now.
“That’s all going back to my fundamentals, just going back to mashed potatoes and gravy,” Robinson said. It’s how I use my hands and my feet. That’s what I constantly have to improve on at practice.”
Robinson said there are times when he is in a trail position that he cannot turn to look for the ball because if the pass is thrown well, he could be turning as the ball is flying over this head. In those cases, he is taught to play the receivers hands to break up the pass.
“I’m constantly trying to fight for position, then I have to look for the ball and I got a guy pushing away,” Robinson said. “Sometimes, it’s 50-50, but probably if I’d been a little more disciplined in my technique, I probably won’t have those problems. It all goes back to the technique.
“It goes back to fundamentals. If I’m able to stay on top of a receiver or cut a receiver off, instead of being more in trail technique, I think that’ll minimize a lot of the problems.”
He has started every game but is now sharing some play time, as rookie Ahkello Witherspoon rotates into the action for Robinson and Dontae Johnson.