John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports


Why 49ers fans should be excited about Lorenzo Jerome

Al Sacco
Jun 5, 2017 at 8:02 AM1


I find it interesting, or maybe the better word would be perplexing, that so much emphasis is put on the NFL Scouting Combine. The former collegiate players who are invited to participate in the event already have years and years of game tape available and, to me, what's on the film is a better indication of that which someone is actually capable. I'm not saying it's all bad, but I don't believe it gives a fair representation of a player's true football ability. For example, game speed is different than the straight-line speed that's timed during a 40-yard dash, and making a judgment (or misjudgment) based on a drill such as that can be costly. After all, according to Bill Walsh, Jerry Rice ran a 4.59. These days, that might have made Rice "slide" a bit in the draft, which seems almost laughable when you think about it.

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with my assessment of the Combine, you'd have to admit that what takes place there over the course of a weekend can, in some cases, go a long way in helping or damaging a prospect's draft stock. For Saint Francis University defensive back Lorenzo Jerome, it appeared to be the latter. Jerome, who was thought to be a mid-round pick by some, seemed to fall out of the draft altogether because of a Combine performance that saw him run a 4.70 in the 40.

But to discount Jerome because of the Combine would be doing a great disservice to a promising safety. You see, Jerome has excelled at every opportunity, and against every level of competition he's faced on a football field. During his collegiate career, Jerome recorded 18 interceptions, including six in his senior season. He was a first-team All-Northeast Conference selection every year of his career and was named a first-team FCS All-American by the Associated Press, an honor which helped him earn a trip to the Senior Bowl. During that game, Jerome shined against some of the best competition college football had to offer, grabbing two interceptions, forcing a fumble, and adding three tackles (one for a loss). Simply put, despite the perceived pedestrian Combine numbers, Jerome can flat out play football.

"He was easily the most instinctive safety at the Senior Bowl, said an AFC Scout. "He jumps everything, and I mean everything." ESPN's Todd McShay agreed with the scout's assessment, stating that Jerome is more a football player than a world class athlete, and named him the best player available after the draft concluded. "A smaller safety who didn't test well at the Combine, Jerome is a better football player than athlete, and he eased concerns about the level of competition he faced in college with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl. Jerome's experience returning kicks will help his stock."

Even with praise coming his way and teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks still very interested in his services post-draft, Jerome was still hurt in more ways than one that his Combine performance had set him back a bit.

"The Combine definitely hurt me," Jerome said on the 49ers Webzone No Huddle Podcast. "It hurt me deep down inside because I ran a 4.7 (40-yard dash). I'm really not a straight-laser guy that can burst out and just run straight. I think football's more about angles and having a feeling where the ball's at. So the Combine did hurt me, but at the end of the day you gotta play football."

Despite the frustration, not getting drafted may have ended up being the best thing for Jerome, as he decided to sign with the 49ers, who were in desperate need of a single-high free safety to back up projected starter Jimmie Ward. San Francisco's new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is installing a 4-3 defense similar to the one the Seahawks have been running in recent years, and quality play on the back end is essential for the scheme to be successful. Think about how important Earl Thomas is to what Seattle does. While Ward played safety in college, he's spent his first three years in the NFL as a corner, so this upcoming season will be a bit of an adjustment for him. He's also battled some injuries thus far, so staying healthy isn't a given. Those factors make the backup safety position all the more important, and Jerome will not only have a chance to make the team but also play a large role should Ward struggle or get hurt. Given his style of play, should Jerome get the chance, he certainly fits the mold of the type of player for whom the 49ers are looking.

"They (the coaching staff) wanted to get a competitive safety, they compare me to Earl Thomas all the time and I relate my game to Earl Thomas and Ed Reed so I feel like I have a good shot of running this defense and playing in coach's system right now. They say just keep pushing and keep doing what I do, get the ball back and be a great safety."

As good as Jerome has been on the field, he might even be more impressive off of it. He has a calm, confident demeanor, but also knows how hard he has to work to make it in the NFL. He's 100-percent dedicated to his craft, and his goals are strictly centered around becoming a better football player and helping the 49ers win. Jerome says that if you want to be great there's always something you can get better at, and proof that he walks the walk was evident when he was asked to name some of his favorite Bay Area spots to frequent so far. In fact, his response was one that every team official and fan should applaud.

"My honest answer is I haven't been out since I've been here (in the Bay Area). I've been in my playbook and working out. I was just at the facility today getting a good lift and a good sweat in so I haven't really had time. I feel like after I settle in and make the 53-man roster, I'll have time to go and enjoy myself with my family and friends, but right now it's all business and focus."

If you want to hear the complete interview with Lorenzo Jerome, you can listen to the 49ers Webzone No Huddle Podcast below, on iTunes, on SoundCloud, or go to our dedicated podcast page.



Al Sacco has been covering the 49ers since 2013 and has had his work used by national outlets such as ESPN and USA TODAY. In addition to his writing duties, Al is also the co-host of the No Huddle podcast presented by 49ers Webzone. If you'd like to reach Al with a media request, please contact him via Twitter @AlSacco49
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


1 Comment

  • Greg
    I hope you're right, but it wasn't just a slow 40 that pushed Jerome down in the draft. His three-cone and short shuttle were even worse. In fact, he was the worst DB at the combine in both by a significant amount (over a half-second slower than the next-worst guy in the three-cone, and 0.3 behind all but one other guy in the short shuttle). Those kinds of numbers cast real doubt on whether he can play in the league, even at a position like safety, where instincts can cover up a lack of athleticism.
    Jun 5, 2017 at 9:30 PM
    7

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



George Kittle explains why Kyle Shanahan, 49ers fans should be excited about the 2021 season

By David Bonilla
22 hrs ago

George Kittle is confident that the San Francisco 49ers will rebound from last season's injury-plagued six-win campaign. It wasn't long ago that the team was in the Super Bowl, and much of that roster remains intact. Most feel that the Niners' 2019 season was an aberration and that a return to the playoffs is in store for this year's squad. Kittle joined Good Morning Football today and shared why the media should not overlook the 2021 49ers. "I don't know if you guys saw this, but Nick Bosa is coming back, and we re-signed Trent Williams," Kittle explained. "So those two guys are pretty good at football, from what I remember. They're pretty decent. And on the opposite side of Nick Bosa, you've got Dee Ford, you've got Arik Armstead." Bosa is



49ers coach Kyle Shanahan fires up NASCAR fans at Toyota/Save Mart 350

By David Bonilla
Jun 6, 2021

Maybe the San Francisco 49ers should look into having head coach Kyle Shanahan fire up the crowds at Levi's Stadium before each home game this season because he did a good job serving as the Grand Marshal of today's Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup Series race. He was tasked with the tradition of starting the race by telling the drivers to start their engines. "I'm not going to lie. I am nervous for it," Shanahan told the television announcing team before the race. "I didn't totally know what I was getting into until I saw video of it a little bit ago." Shanahan was told that he needs to be aggressive. "Alright, I'm going to come strong," he responded. He certainly did that. "Hello, Faithful," Shanahan told the crowd. "Hey,



NFL.com lists re-signing Richard Sherman as an offseason move 49ers should make

By Kirk Larrabee
Jun 11, 2021

The 49ers are mostly set when it comes to how their 90-man roster will look when training camp gets underway in July, but there's at least one unsigned player who looms large as a possible addition the team could make before the players return to Santa Clara. That player of course is cornerback Richard Sherman, who has yet to find a team after playing with the 49ers the past three seasons. Whether the 49ers and Sherman decide to reunite for another go-round remains to be seen. But NFL.com columnist Jeffri Chadia thinks continuing the relationship would make sense for both sides as he listed the 49ers re-signing Sherman as one of five big moves NFL teams should make in the coming months. "As of right now, the best fit for Sherman remains the 49ers,"



Kyle Shanahan looking for a receiver to step up, shares why 49ers weren't aggressive with Julio Jones

By David Bonilla
Jun 9, 2021

It's pretty clear who will be the starting wideouts for the San Francisco 49ers. Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel currently sit atop the depth chart. Fans are curious who will be the team's third receiver. It turns out, head coach Kyle Shanahan is curious too and is hoping someone steps up during training camp. Following a couple of injuries on Monday, San Francisco canceled the remainder of its offseason program, including next week's minicamp. Players won't return to the practice field until training camp at the end of July. That's when the real competition at wide receiver begins. "I think we've got a number of candidates who can earn that spot you're talking about," Shanahan told reporters this afternoon when asked about the receiver depth. "We're looking for


Featured

More by Al Sacco

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone