49ers 2021 Rookie NFL Power Rankings: Staying Idle
It’s somewhat hard to judge the next tier of Niners rookies, who aren’t necessarily in Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse but also aren’t necessarily solidifying themselves as key contributors this season.
Perhaps that all changes over the second half of the year, and it very likely could with regards to whether or not San Francisco stays in the playoff hunt.
The 49ers may have to play the long game with Ambry Thomas, but Dre Kirkpatrick’s waiving opens up the door for Round 5 rookie cornerback Deommodore Lenoir to see a slight uptick in playing time.
Lenoir likely won’t unseat the Niners’ two starters, Emmanuel Moseley and Josh Norman. But after an impressive two-game stint to start the year, followed by a drastically reduced amount of playing time, the former Oregon Duck might be able to get onto the field in sub packages and as a spot fill-in player.
That’s probably what San Francisco envisioned from Lenoir his rookie season anyway, meaning this pick could actually turn out to be an OK one.
Veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has now strung together three solid outings in a row, including being an effective game manager in the win over the Rams despite the 49ers offense rushing a whopping 44 times.
There’ll still be calls for Trey Lance to start right away, yes, considering the fact he’s the future of the franchise. But as long as Jimmy G continues to play well, even if his efforts aren’t overly dominant, the inevitable switch to Lance will continue to be delayed.
Of note, Lance hasn’t taken a snap under center since his lone 2021 start way back in Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals.
That not only means those early specialized Lance packages are likely done, but it also means the No. 3 overall pick has to drop in our rookie NFL power rankings.