49ers Deommodore Lenoir says Brandon Aiyuk was biggest challenge

Oregon Ducks cornerback Deommodore Lenoir (0) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Oregon Ducks cornerback Deommodore Lenoir (0) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers rookie cornerback Deommodore Lenoir says former ASU wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk was his biggest challenge back in college.

San Francisco 49ers first-year cornerback Deommodore Lenoir is probably happy he won’t have to go up against second-year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk anymore, at least not in actual game situations.

No, the two former Pac-12 rivals, Lenoir from Oregon and Aiyuk from ASU, are teammates now after the Niners used the No. 172 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to select the 5-foot-10 Lenoir in Round 5, one of three selections to reinforce the team’s secondary.

The Pac-12 has a long history of developing notable wide receivers ready for the pro ranks, and Aiyuk is one of those standouts after he recorded an impressive 748 receiving yards on 60 catches for five touchdowns after San Francisco grabbed him in Round 1 a year ago.

As such, pass-coverage defenders within the conference have to stand out in a big way if they’re going to get drafted, and Lenoir seemingly did that well enough.

When asked about his toughest challenge back in college, however, Lenoir didn’t hesitate to call out the 49ers’ top wide receiver.

Deommodore Lenoir praised 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk before NFL Draft

In an interview with our FanSided friends over at The Jet Press, Lenoir was asked which wide receiver gave him the most trouble during his time back at Oregon.

Lenoir’s response? Aiyuk:

"Brandon Aiyuk. He was a twitchy guy. He was very explosive after the catch and those types of receivers tend to give me fits. I would say that’s my biggest challenge, going up against receivers like him that are twitchy, have long arms, and good speed. He’s a phenomenal football player."

That was before the Niners drafted Lenoir.

If anything, Lenoir’s toughest challenge at the collegiate level will now be someone he gets to see regularly during camp and practices, opening up the opportunity for the rookie to hone his technique and correct whatever went wrong back when Oregon and ASU faced off against each other.

Perhaps reminiscent of this big touchdown drive where Lenoir closed off Aiyuk on one snap, only to lose big to him for a score the very next play:

Perhaps we can understand a little bit why Aiyuk was giving Lenoir so many fits.

Fortunately, or at least as long as the two remain teammates, the only challenges Lenoir will have to face is learning from Aiyuk during training camp and at practice.

If the proverbial “iron sharpens iron” argument rings true here, Lenoir can certainly pick up a thing or two from having to regularly defend against San Francisco’s star receiver when there aren’t any points on the line.

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