Expectations among 49ers fans for fifth-round pick Deommodore Lenoir are sky high because of this one play he made two weeks ago during rookie mini-camp.
Impressive play. Unfortunately, Lenoir was covering undrafted free agent wide receiver Austin Watkins, who makes every cornerback look like Deion Sanders.
Here's what it looks like when Lenoir covers Brandon Aiyuk:
Lenoir simply does not have the speed nor the acceleration to cover good NFL wide receivers. Which means the 49ers almost certainly did not draft him in Round 5 with the intention of ever starting him at cornerback.
Lenoir might become a backup cornerback in the future for the 49ers. But for him to earn a starter's role, it most likely will have to be at nickelback. And that's probably where the 49ers envision him playing.
Remember, last year the 49ers lost their backup nickelback, D.J. Reed, whom they waived him with a non-football injury designation. Perhaps they assumed he would clear waivers and they could sign him to their practice squad.
But the next day, the Seattle Seahawks signed Reed. And by the end of the 2020 season, he was one of their starting outside cornerbacks -- not a mere nickelback.
The 49ers made a big mistake.
Lenoir is their attempt to fix their mistake. They need a young nickelback to replace the one they never should have waived -- Reed. Because their starting nickelback, K'Waun Williams, will be 30 in July and a free agent in 2022.
Which means the 49ers probably hope Lenoir can replace Williams a year from now.
That's a realistic expectation.