SF 49ers: 4 players with unrealistic expectations entering 2021

Jalen Hurd #17 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Jalen Hurd #17 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /
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Deommodore Lenoir, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers defensive back Deommodore Lenoir (38) Mandatory Credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports /

Some of the expectations are being placed a bit too high on these SF 49ers players, who probably aren’t going to live up to desired levels right away.

It’s easy to get hyped about the San Francisco 49ers heading into 2021.

For starters, the law of averages suggests the Niners won’t come anywhere close to enduring the same number of injuries they suffered over the course of last year. And by that alone, one might expect San Francisco to be right back in the playoff mix.

Especially after re-signing the bulk of its pending free-agent class while onboarding a number of key new faces, both in free agency and through the 2021 NFL Draft.

New faces always generate excitement. Veteran players are expected to be perfect fits while filling key roles, and first-year rookies always have a ton of promise.

At the same time, though, it’s important to temper expectation levels for many a player heading into the regular season.

Particularly these four SF 49ers who may be expected to do too much in 2021.

No. 4: SF 49ers Cornerback Deommodore Lenoir

There are plenty of reasons to be excited about rookie cornerback Deommodore Lenoir.

The Niners’ fifth-round draft pick out of Oregon is known for his aggressive tendencies and his ability to excel in press-man coverage out on the boundary. Despite his shortish 5-foot-10 stature, Lenoir doesn’t shy away from bigger-bodied receivers and plays bigger than his size would indicate.

That said, expecting Lenoir to come in and contribute right away might be too big an ask.

Lenoir’s size could indicate a long-term fit at nickel back. But he generally lacks the quick twitch necessary to handle shifty interior routes, thereby making him a better early fit for boundary duties. Even then, Lenoir’s aggressiveness could potentially get him into trouble early, as much of his physicality could result in too many yellow flags at the pro level.

Fortunately, San Francisco has returning veteran corners like Jason Verrett and K’Waun Williams pegged to start in 2021, meaning Lenoir should spend his first season as a key backup, adjusting his game to the NFL level and not being asked to do too much right away.