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Bigger role could await 49ers CB Darrell Luter Jr. in 2024

Feb 27, 2024 at 4:11 PM--


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Darrell Luter Jr. appeared in seven games this past season, his first in the NFL. However, the San Francisco 49ers cornerback saw action in only 64 defensive snaps during his rookie campaign, all of which came later in the season. Forty-four of these snaps were in the regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Rams, a game primarily featuring backup players. He was notably absent during the 49ers' three playoff contests.

Luter started the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list due to a hyperextended knee suffered in the offseason, stalling his progress after displaying promising signs early on. Entering his sophomore NFL season, the 23-year-old cornerback could secure a more significant role in 2024.

General manager John Lynch, addressing reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday, hinted that Luter might compete for the starting cornerback position opposite Charvarius Ward.

"He's a guy we like—obviously along with [Ward] and Deommodore," Lynch said of Luter, per The Athletic. "But I would say that's a position you have to address every year. You just can't have enough of 'em. And I think we'll continue to do that."

The 49ers abandoned the Isaiah Oliver experiment, recently releasing the veteran cornerback signed last offseason to occupy the nickel spot. Oliver struggled with consistency throughout the season, leading to a decline in his playing time during the latter half of the schedule.

As Oliver's snap counts diminished, Lenoir's playing time in the slot surged, resulting in a career-high Pro Football Focus grade of 75.8. Lenoir started all three of the 49ers' playoff games.

Securing a replacement for Ambry Thomas opposite Ward could bolster the 49ers' 14th-ranked pass defense. The team has drafted at least one cornerback in each of the past three years, and they'll likely do so again in April. Despite some financial constraints, many expect San Francisco to target a starting-caliber cornerback in free agency.

Luter displaying progress this offseason might offer the 49ers the perfect mix of talent and value, offering a promising outlook for the team's cornerback position in the upcoming season.



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