Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Oliver discusses strengths, looking to help 49ers in any way

Mar 16, 2023 at 5:26 PM--

It should be comforting to San Francisco 49ers fans to learn that Falcons fans on social media were unhappy with the news that cornerback Isaiah Oliver wasn't returning to Atlanta. Oliver signed a two-year deal with the Niners and will likely compete for the nickel cornerback spot made vacant by the departure of Jimmie Ward to the Houston Texans.

Oliver has played 77 percent of his 510 defensive snaps in the slot over the last two seasons, per Pro Football Focus.

"I definitely felt much more comfortable in there," Oliver said on Thursday, speaking to 49ers reporters for the first time. "I felt like I was able to kind of play to my strengths a little more. Just being around the ball, kind of being in the run fit, things like that. I felt real comfortable doing [that], and I like doing a lot. I felt like it was a lot more fun, for sure. So that's something that I definitely kind of grown towards, for sure."

Oliver is open to anything his coaches throw at him, though. He hasn't had specific discussions about his role with the 49ers yet and is just looking to contribute to the team's continued success.

"As I understand it, I'm here just to kind of be versatile and help in any way I can, really," Oliver said. "I think we kind of got to take the time to see where I fit in and what that kind of looks like going forward through OTAs, through training camp, and stuff like that. But my goal is really just to come in and help the team in any way."

While watching from afar, Oliver has been impressed with the 49ers' talent-rich defense. Obviously, that contributed to the decision to join the team.

"I feel like my strengths are just being able to get around the ball, be a strong tackler, be able to make plays on the ball in that way," Oliver shared. "I feel like that's something that I've excelled at over the past couple of years, for sure, and still getting better at, in that way. So that's kind of what I'm looking forward to help bring to the team."

Oliver joins a defensive backs room that includes Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, Talanoa Hufanga, and Tashaun Gipson. At the front of that defense is a stout defensive line that includes Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and now, Javon Hargrave.

"It's definitely exciting," Oliver admits. "That's definitely something that the 49ers are very known for around the NFL. Definitely something that they've been really, really good at for the last few years. So it's definitely intriguing to me, for sure.

"I feel like any defensive position, especially in the back seven, you really want a strong defensive line. That's exciting for you. The quarterback has to get the ball out quicker. Things like that makes it harder for them. So, yeah, I'm definitely excited to work with those guys. Those are All-Pro-level-type guys."

Oliver spent the first five games of the 2022 season on injured reserve after missing most of 2021 due to a season-ending ACL injury. He feels that setback is well behind him now, though.

"So, yeah, coming back from that, I mean, it's just a really long process," Oliver said. "That's kind of just what sucks about it the most. I felt like, for me, it was just kind of how long it took to kind of go through that offseason, rehabbing, go to training camp, still rehabbing, start of the season, still rehabbing.

"And then finally getting back on the field to be able to play some football was a lot of fun, and I felt like, every week, I got a little bit better and a little more confident in it as the time went on. I would say probably not until December did I really feel, Okay, now I feel real good. So that was really probably almost towards the end of the season, definitely the last half of the season."

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