49ers vs. Falcons: Deommodore Lenoir needs to step up in Week 6

Deommodore Lenoir #38 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Deommodore Lenoir #38 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

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The 49ers are now without Emmanuel Moseley as a starting cornerback, meaning Deommodore Lenoir will play a bigger role against the Falcons in Week 6.

The San Francisco 49ers suffered a serious blow in Week 5 when they lost one of their starting boundary cornerbacks, Emmanuel Moseley, to a season-ending ACL tear in the victory over the Carolina Panthers.

And arguably the worst part about it is the fact it occurred in garbage time long after the Niners had all but secured the win.

While No. 1 cornerback Charvarius Ward has rightfully received the bulk of the credit for turning San Francisco’s defensive backfield around this season, Moseley has also been awfully impressive and was en route to boasting a career-best year.

Shame for him.

Now, with the 49ers wrapping up their two-game East Coast road trip with a Week 6 tilt against the 2-3 Atlanta Falcons, head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. will look again to their depth with the hope it can again make up for the loss of a starter.

And while there are a number of reservists upon whom the Niners can call, second-year cornerback Deommodore Lenoir is one who might receive the most amount of pressure on Sunday.

Do 49ers use Deommodore Lenoir to fill in for Emmanuel Moseley?

San Francisco does have a number of options to address Moseley’s absence. The ideal one, of course, is to await a (hopefully) healthy return of veteran cornerback Jason Verrett, who has been shelved on the physically unable-to-perform list this season after missing almost all of 2021 with a torn ACL of his own.

Verrett’s practice window opened up in advance of Week 5, but he won’t be activated yet in time for Sunday’s contest.

In the meantime, someone else will have to proverbially “hold down the fort.”

Lenoir, who beat out rookie corner Samuel Womack for the starting nickel job in Week 3, has primarily stayed in that role up until Moseley’s injury. However, it’s important to note that Lenoir was more of a boundary cornerback during his collegiate years at the University of Oregon.

Now, in the wake of Moseley’s injury, what seems most likely is for Lenoir to occupy the No. 2 boundary spot opposite Ward on base downs, then bump inside for three-wide formations.

While this opens up another “pressure cooker” for yet another fill-in cornerback in nickel deployments, it also means Lenoir essentially gets promoted to an every-down defensive back regardless of what the Falcons are doing on offense.

What Deommodore Lenoir, 49ers have to worry about with Falcons’ passing game

Carolina has a putrid offense. Atlanta’s offense is far from putrid, and it actually ranks 10th in overall scoring entering Week 6.

Yet the overwhelming majority of the Falcons’ offensive production has come on the ground, and quarterback Marcus Mariota has a mere 823 pass yards over five games to date.

That could potentially change, though, with second-year tight end Kyle Pitts returning to the lineup after missing time with a hamstring injury, giving Mariota another weapon to pair with wide receivers like Olamide Zaccheaus and Drake London.

London, in particular, might be the more intriguing of the two, and his 22 receptions for 266 yards and two touchdowns is an intriguing matchup to watch if he’s frequently lined up opposite Lenoir.

As for Lenoir, he’s entering the game having allowed 20 catches out of 25 targets for 195 yards, while opposing quarterbacks are posting a 99.2 passer rating when targeting him.

With a serious downgrade at cornerback, one might figure Mariota and Atlanta’s passing game will be looking Lenoir’s way a lot on Sunday even if the Falcons aren’t exactly a pass-happy squad.

Hopefully, Lenoir responds adequately enough.

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