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Maiocco: Renardo Green could solve 49ers’ recent cornerback dilemma

Jun 19, 2024 at 12:42 PM


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The San Francisco 49ers might have to choose between keeping Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel next year. That decision might be straightforward if the team agrees to a contract extension with Aiyuk in the coming weeks.

Another less-discussed decision involves the defensive side, particularly at cornerback. Charvarius Ward is entering the final year of the three-year deal he signed in 2022 and will seek a substantial contract next offseason.

"Yeah, I'd like to stick around," Ward recently said. "... That's the business side of things. I'll just do my job, go out there and ball, put the pressure on them. Hopefully, they give me a bag."

Deommodore Lenoir, one of the team's promising young cornerbacks, is also entering the final year of his rookie deal. The 49ers might have to choose between Ward and Lenoir.

In April, the 49ers made Renardo Green a second-round draft pick, hoping the young cornerback could carve out a significant future role on the defense. For now, he may be the answer to a problem that has plagued the 49ers in recent years—identifying a capable nickel cornerback.

"Renardo Green is one of these players that really has an opportunity, coming in fresh, working at nickelback, while also getting reps on the outside," NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco recently stated on his podcast. "The 49ers really struggled at nickelback last season, to the point where the guy that Steve Wilks wanted, Isaiah Oliver, who he considered one of the top nickelbacks in the league, wasn't even one of the top nickelbacks on the team last year."

Acknowledging the mistake, San Francisco released Oliver in February, ahead of free agency. The defensive back signed with the New York Jets. The 49ers hope Green is a better fit covering the slot.

"As much as you might try to shore that up, it's not easy," Maiocco continued. "And so, they used their second-round draft pick on Renardo Green while having all these other cornerbacks kind of in the mix. ... Lenoir is back. He could play the nickelback position. They also have Chase Lucas, who could play the nickelback position.

"They have guys on the outside like Isaac Yiadom, like Rock Ya-Sin, Darrell Luter, Samuel Womack. So, there's a lot of moving parts there, but the easiest answer for the 49ers, and I'm sure the one that they would really like to see, is Renardo Green steps in from day one and owns that nickelback position."

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