49ers Round 5 draft pick: DB Deommodore Lenoir, Oregon
Like Aaron Banks and Jaylon Moore with the offensive line, the 49ers had already made a move to bolster up the secondary earlier in the NFL Draft by bringing aboard Michigan cornerback Ambry Thomas towards the end of Round 3.
But Thomas wasn’t going to be enough to make a long-term difference, at least not with corners Jason Verrett and K’Waun Williams pegged for free agency in 2022.
So, with their second fifth-round selection, the Niners took a shot on Oregon defensive back Deommodore Lenoir, a 5-foot-10 feisty defensive back who primarily played on the boundary during his collegiate years with the Ducks but has the versatility to occupy multiple spots within the defensive backfield.
Lenoir can be a bit grabby and doesn’t have the quick-twitch reaction skills to make him a natural nickel cornerback right out of the gate. Therefore, he’ll need to hone his technique and pro-level football IQ to properly anticipate routes rather than catch up to receivers.
In 2018, San Francisco drafted now-Seattle Seahawks defensive back D.J. Reed as a likely long-term replacement for the soon-to-be 30-year-old Williams. But with Reed now gone, Lenoir is going to be expected to step into the No. 2 nickel void with the possible need of serving as a backup free safety, too.
Lenoir might only get special teams snaps and the occasional rotation role on defense, and it probably would be wise to let the rookie develop a full year before banking on him being able to start full time.