Unfortunately, a devastating injury forced the 49ers' hand in giving a rookie cornerback more playing time in Week 1 than they had initially anticipated.
The combination of Jason Verrett's season-ending injury, paired with starting corner Emmanuel Moseley's absence, allowed for rookie corner Deommodore Lenoir to play most of the 49ers' defensive snaps in Week 1.
Totaling around 90 snaps on the game, Lenoir ended up holding his own against a hungry Detroit Lions offense in the second half.
49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans met with the media Thursday afternoon and discussed Lenoir's performance in his NFL debut.
“Yeah, D-Mo was fine," Ryans told said. "He didn't blink. To be a rookie for his first game and to be tasked with that many reps. Of course, we didn't want that many reps, but one thing I liked about D-Mo, he didn't blink. He competed every snap and he was good. He continues to work and get better. So, I'm proud of the way he fought through the game, a lot of reps, but he fought through and it's encouraging to see where he can keep going.”
Lenoir was a fifth-round pick for the 49ers in the 2021 NFL Draft but has quickly established himself as a potential starting corner one week into his career. It's still very early, but San Francisco might have just hit on another fifth-round prospect (TE George Kittle in 2017 and LB Dre Greenlaw in 2019) who has the potential to develop into a starter.
In what ways has Lenoir been able to develop so quickly?
"Just the confidence level has really picked up for him," Ryans added. "And I know, as a rookie, it’s a lot. We’re throwing a lot at guys and they're just wide-eyed. It's a lot on their plate, so I'm proud of the way he's been consistent. And he's been consistently getting better and better and better. And the confidence level that he has, has definitely risen over the time when he first started to now.”
With Verrett out for the remainder of the season, and Moseley dealing with a nagging knee injury, Lenoir could continue to see more and more playing time as the season progresses.
He might be a rookie, but the 21-year-old is ready for the challenge.
"[It's important to] just get the mindset of I got to be ready," Lenoir said Thursday afternoon … "Because they gonna come they're gonna try to find me because I'm new I'm [the] rookie so I just gotta step up to the plate."