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  • NEWS Desk Global


The resurgence of the 49ers’ defense after the bye week came following three notable changes. First, the 49ers acquired defensive end Chase Young in a trade from the Washington Commanders. Then, the decision was made for defensive coordinator Steve Wilks to move from the coaches' booth to calling plays from the sideline. A third difference with the 49ers' defense got a lot less attention but ranks no lower than second in importance: Moving cornerback Deommodore Lenoir to nickel back in passing situations.

“I feel that’s the right move for how the defense looks right now,” Lenoir said. “I feel like we play a lot faster when I’m there. It’s the way to get the best 11 on the field.” Through most of the first half of the season, the 49ers deployed Isaiah Oliver as the nickel back. But when he repeatedly struggled in coverage, the 49ers made the permanent switch to Lenoir. Lenoir is the team’s starting cornerback opposite of Charvarius Ward in base situations. When the opposition goes with three wide receivers, Lenoir moves to nickel back and Ambry Thomas takes Lenoir’s spot on the outside. “I can't say enough about Demo,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said of Lenoir. “Demo has been so good on the outside and when we ask him to go inside, he goes in there and plays the exact same way.

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