These 5 players must become 49ers' next batch of superstars

San Francisco 49ers defensive backs Deommodore Lenoir (38) and Tashaun Gipson (31)
San Francisco 49ers defensive backs Deommodore Lenoir (38) and Tashaun Gipson (31) / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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The 49ers have found a way to turn less-known players into household names in recent years, and the next group is ready to emerge in 2023.

Perhaps this is a bit of a "homer" list, bragging about how good some of the San Francisco 49ers' better-known players have become since rising from relative obscurity.

However, let's not overshadow the fact that the Niners have figured out a way to find some hidden gems late in the NFL Draft over the years. Rewinding back to 2017, tight end George Kittle (Round 5) has turned into a bona fide superstar. All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner was a modest third-round selection the following year, too. Also, if you count the 2021 draft with another fifth-round selection in safety Talanoa Hufanga, pegging him to be another All-Pro after his second season in the NFL was a pleasant surprise.

Oh, and quarterback Brock Purdy (Round 7) turned out to be pretty good, too.

Simply put, you might complain about general manager John Lynch, head coach Kyle Shanahan and the team's front office for not drafting well enough.

But, they do. They do. It's one of the reasons San Francisco has gone from a league laughingstock into a Super Bowl contender.

At any rate, change is inevitable with regard to rosters, and the 49ers are going to have to turn the page again this upcoming season in the wake of some notable free-agent departures.

Perhaps some of these Niners end up rising to the occasion after holding unassuming roles prior to 2023.

San Francisco 49ers, Deommodore Lenoir
San Francisco 49ers defensive back Deommodore Lenoir (38) / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

No. 5: 49ers cornerback Deommodore Lenoir

Of San Francisco's two cornerbacks drafted in 2021, Deommodore Lenoir was thought to be more of the depth option and little more, while Ambry Thomas was viewed as a potential boundary starter.

Two years later, Lenoir is now the favorite to start opposite the 49ers' No. 1 cornerback, Charvarius Ward.

Lenoir ended up landing in this role by misfortune, a torn ACL suffered by now-Detroit Lions corner Emmanuel Moseley last season. And while his 91.2 passer rating allowed in 2022 isn't necessarily indicative of being a shutdown corner, his trajectory suggests year three should be pretty impressive.

Especially considering the Niners did relatively little to address the position during the offseason aside from using a fifth-round draft pick on cornerback Darrell Luter Jr., who'll likely back up Lenoir to start the regular season.

Maybe Lenoir winds up having one of those breakout-kind of campaigns in year three.