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Locking Up a Cornerstone: Why the 49ers Should Extend Deommodore Lenoir

Jul 5, 2024 at 1:55 PM

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San Francisco 49ers cornerback Deommodore Lenoir has been in the news recently but not for what Niners fans are hoping for - a long-term contract extension.

Lenoir, a former fifth-round pick in the 2021 Draft from the University of Oregon, has turned out to be a rising star in the 49ers' secondary. He was recently named to the Pro Football Focus 'most underrated' player category, and even was praised by defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks, who mentioned his mental improvement and ability to be a versatile athlete.

As the offseason comes to an end, the 24-year-old has yet to secure a long-term deal but the headlines keep praising him, which poses an important question - should the 49ers extend Lenoir sooner rather than later?

There are several reasons why I strongly advise the organization to lock up their gem of a defensive back, in the near future.

1. The Production Speaks for Itself

Every year that Lenoir has been in the NFL, he has improved his production. Comparing 2022 to this past season was night and day from a performance perspective. Lenoir played in 17 football games, accumulating a career high 84 combined tackles (58 solo, 26 assisted), three interceptions, ten pass deflections, and one tackle for a loss.

While the statistics do paint a better picture, it is very important to know just how versatile Lenoir was in then defensive coordinator Steve Wilks' scheme. He was tasked as a defender who could be placed in multiple roles such as the outside cornerback and even inside at the nickel spot. This season, the goal is to have Lenoir excel at one defensive back position, allowing him to take his talents to new heights – and I am all for it.

2. Young and Cost-Efficient

Being in the final year of his rookie contract, the team can offer Lenoir a very friendly extension before he turns out to have an even better 2024, raising his potential cost. The current NFL market for cornerbacks who have been productive is extremely expensive. Not only that, the 49ers also have Charvarius Ward who is looking for an extension as well.

We have witnessed just this offseason how an NFL team values a defensive staple in the secondary through the trade of Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed to the Tennessee Titans. Sneed had the franchise tag placed upon him and then just 25 days later the Chiefs traded him for a 2025 third-round pick along with the swap of a seventh-round pick.

Sneed played in 16 games, accumulating 78 combined tackles (60 solo, 18 assisted), four interceptions, 14 pass deflections, and five tackles for a loss.

From a statistical standpoint only and not from the film and scheme perspective, Sneed only had one more interception than Lenoir along with four more pass deflections and four more tackles for a loss. Lenoir did have Sneed's number with the combined and assisted tackles.

As one can see, locking up Lenoir prior to the start of the season would be the smart move for the 49ers. If he has an even better campaign in 2024, the price instantly skyrockets due to the ever-changing league contract dynamics and from his performance improvement.

3. Reliable, Respectable, Hard-Working:

As a football coach, we often surround ourselves and teach our players how to be accountable, reliable, and have a solid work ethic. If these pillars occur, then not only is the coaching staff and administration proud, but it also builds a strong culture within a program. Lenoir is one of those athletes who comes to work each day and strives to get better. We have seen it in interviews with his position coach, on the football field with his communication with teammates, and through his offseason preparation. Having a hard-working athlete who is just looking to get better from the previous year without a whole lot of drama and negative news surrounding his name, is the final reason why I think the 49ers should lock him up to a long-term contract as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts:

These are just three of my reasons why I am extremely high on the former fifth-round draft pick from Oregon and how he can help the 49ers' defense reach unprecedented levels.

Should the 49ers lock up Lenoir now, or wait until after the season concludes?
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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