2. 49ers CB Deommodore Lenoir
Another victim of Shanahan’s refusal to play his high-investment draft picks is corner Deommodore Lenoir. Instead, more veteran loyalty to Dre Kirkpatrick and Josh Norman has sidelined the rookie for three weeks straight. Lenoir’s situation might be the most frustrating of the bunch, considering he played on every defensive snap in Week 1 and saw high volume field time in the following two weeks before a 180 by Shanahan landed him a warm seat on the bench.
In his three games, he recorded nine total tackles and a pair of defended passes. San Francisco was also 2-1 through the first three weeks.
The team is 0-3 since.
That’s not to say Lenoir makes an immense impact, but he just hasn’t had the mistakes that are dragging down the defense as of late. Norman and Kirkpatrick spent last Sunday getting shredded by Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman and making bigger plays against the 49ers than for them.
They are some of the worst-ranked corners in the entire league after their atrocious Week 7.
At this point, even if Lenoir wasn’t a solid talent, San Francisco has nothing to lose by playing him. He can’t possibly be worse than the guys ahead of him in the depth chart. Even allotting him just 20 or 30 percent of the snaps would lower the liability of this defense.
Shanahan has to give Lenoir reps against Chicago. Bears quarterback Justin Fields is handing out interceptions at this point, and a big play for the rookie corner could boost him to another level.
Especially with matchups against NFC West star quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Matthew Stafford on the horizon, why not see what Lenoir is capable of in Week 8?