49ers Mailbag: Time to bench Deommodore Lenoir?

The San Francisco 49ers have won nine in a row for the first time since 1997. During their 37-34 win over Las Vegas the San Francisco defense wasn’t its normal self, leading several to question their play with the playoffs looming.

The rough patches overshadow that the 49ers defense came up with its ninth turnover on downs during the win streak, fourth inside their own ten. In addition, they forced two turnovers in the second half, bringing their total to 17 over the last nine games. Those turnovers turned into a game tying field goal and the game winning field goal.

There were some terrific topics brought up for this week’s mailbag including possible changes to the secondary, how injuries may impact the offensive line and potential playoff matchups.

Brian M, @AFNinerFan – “Do you think they should stick with Deommodore Lenoir or make a change to Janoris Jenkins or Ambry Thomas? Same with Talanoa Hufanga and George Odum”

This question makes sense considering Lenoir’s outing against Las Vegas where he allowed a passer rating of 113.69. The second-year corner struggled against Davante Adams and Darren Waller, two of the top players at their position in the NFL.

Lenoir had been playing well of late. Over the previous five weeks he had allowed a passer rating of just 57.78 and an average of 5.4 yards per pass attempt into his coverage.

During his press conference last Friday Kyle Shanahan said the 49ers are set with Lenoir as one of their starting cornerbacks but that Jenkins could move into the lineup.

I don’t expect to see that change occur this week. The 49ers have already used one of Jenkins’ three activations from the practice squad. If they make this move it will happen during the playoffs.

As for Talanoa Hufanga, he will remain as the starter. Although he gives up some big plays he comes up with several as well.

The 49ers will not bench Hufanga in favor of Odum. Instead, it would be to move Jimmie Ward back to safety. This would lead to Lenoir being moved back into the slot and Jenkins at corner. I find it hard to see them making wholesale changes to the back end of their secondary at this point in the season.

Frank Guzman, @fguz78 – “How scary will the 49ers offense be with Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel returning for the playoffs? Do you expect rust?”

I don’t think the offense can be scarier than it already is. The additions of Mitchell and Samuel will allow the ball to be spread around a bit more. Also, Samuel impacts the defense even when he doesn’t touch the ball because defenses need to account for him.

With regards to rust, look at Mitchell’s performance against the Chargers. After missing seven games the running back gained 89 yards on 18 carries. If he’s healthy he provides a terrific one-two punch with Christian McCaffrey.

It’s a similar situation with Deebo Samuel. The wideout had over 130 yards receiving when returning from injury in 2020 and was solid against Cincinnati in a similar situation a year ago.

Jack Meyer, @jacktmeyer – “What is the long-term impact of losing Aaron Banks? How does the 49ers offensive line respond?”

The loss of Aaron Banks is another example of the tremendous depth the 49ers have created throughout their roster.

Daniel Brunskill started every game at right guard in 2021 and has been splitting time this year with rookie Spencer Burford. Brunskill was solid yesterday and there should be no change from what we’ve seen so far this season.

Brandon Matthews, @RCDiscussion – “What would you like to see scheduling wise for the playoffs? Would San Francisco benefit more from a Saturday Wild Card game so they go into the divisional round more rested?”

The best scenario for the 49ers is to get the top seed and avoid the Wild Card round all together which is still a possibility.

If they finish as the second seed a Saturday game could help, but there is no guarantee their game in the divisional round would be Sunday.

Sebastian Sheffield @sheffgoat24 – “What needs to happen for the 49ers to earn the number one seed in the NFC? Who would they face if they are number two or three?

The 49ers earn the number one seed in the NFC with a win over Arizona and a Philadelphia loss at home to the New York Giants.

New York is set as the six seed in the NFC. They will face whoever ends up as the third seed.

Here are the scenarios for the seventh seed. Green Bay is in with a win over Detroit. Detroit is in with a win and Seahawks loss to the Rams. Seattle is in with a win and loss by Green Bay.

This article has 21 Comments

  1. If there is a long term impact to losing Banks it won’t be because of Brunskills play it will be whether Burfords play diminishes having to play the entire game. His level of play seemed to pick up when he started splitting time with Brunskill. imho. As to Lenior a couple of the catches he gave up yesterday were more about the greatness of Adams and Waller than a breakdown in coverage. If the 49ers make any change in the secondary it would be playing Ward a little more at safety while Womack gets some time at nickle with Huf’s playing time diminishing. They could give it a little try this week Vs. Ariz.

    1. Coach

      I like your observation about the Oline. I have been very happy with the oline play, I was one of those concerned about the inexperience of the players playing together. We really do have one of the best coaching staffs.

      I wholeheartedly agree on your assessment with Lenoir. The defense may have benefited from a bit of a wake up call. Time to get back to basics, to much trying to force turnovers IMO

      BP did it again, I am starting to really like Brock Purdy more and more.

    2. I don’t see Hufanga’s playing time diminishing. While he can make some mistakes, he is also a ball-hawk that can create turnovers.

      Warner committed a couple of penalties yesterday that lead to two raiders TDs. I doubt that his playing time will be diminished because of that. Plus, I’m not sure that Freddie is a great pass coverage defender.
      But, like Warner, I believe Shanahan knows that Hufanga is one snap away from making a big play.

      1. I’ve been reliabiy informed Hufanga made the ProBowl and “liabilities” don’t make the Pro Browl. No way does Huf make mistakes.

        1. Has Shanahan or Lynch and 49ers FO called Hufanga a liability?
          The term liability connected to Hufanga is a trumped up one that was made by a few people on this blog.

          Now, if those few people had the clout to control Hufanga’s playing time, I might give it some credence.
          But they don’t, so it’s just muffled noise.

    3. Please play Amber and Jenkins in the upcoming Az game. Jenkins may have enough in his tank to help. A former all-pro I read. Amber played well late last year. Lenoir is a backup only. I am curious about Ward splitting time at safety with Huf. Don’t overdo CMC. He is more important than Deebo and is responsible for much of the 9-game streak. Can Jimmy G be back the first week of the playoffs as a backup? You cannot go into the finals with just Brock and Johnson.

  2. Whoever sent in for the struggled Lenoir will be bombed repeatedly by the opponent until proven. Thomas and Jenkins is better be ready. Hufanga should sneak an air-tag inside the other WRs jersey so that is he reminded of where they are during the game.

  3. Hearing mixed reports about NY Giants resting starters vs Philly.

    I think it’s most likely Philly beats NYG, with the 49ers clinching the 2 seed.

  4. 2 seed scares me! Looks to be facing GB in round one!
    im praying for the 1 seed! Giants cant afford to rest anyone!! There young and unproven. All i know is i dont want Purdy having to outduel Aaron Rodgers in his first play off game

      1. Yes. Lenoir SHOULD be benched! He needs another year as a back up. Our defense has been exposed.

  5. Damar Hamlin reminds me of the only NFL death during a game that I can remember, early 70’s Det Lion Chuck Hughes. 49ers had a rookie O lineman Thomas Herrion die in the locker room after a preseason game a few years ago. My prayers are with him and his family.

    1. Coach,
      I remember Hughes devastating death. I never saw the horrible scene on TV, only found out the next day.
      I did watch the vicious hit by Jack Tatum on Darryl Stingley. Tatum tackled Stingley high to the neck and head area, and if some of the younger posters here didn’t know who Jack Tatum was, i’ll just say that to this day, I’ve never seen any player hit with the force and violence of this player. Believe me, he earned the nickname “The Assassin” for a reason.
      But for now, my prayers go out to Hamlin.

  6. All I know is that NO ONE predicted that the nines had a chance at the #1 seat in week 18 before the season started!

  7. I have confidence in Brock Purdy. The only thing I’m worried about is his lack of playoff experience where teams play harder and tougher. But that’s okay. He’s about to get it now. For a rookie he is doing a great job! The secondary needs to do a better job against the deep pass because they are going to face teams tougher than the Raiders who throw deep good ( Dallas, Philly, Green Bay, for example ). I just hope Kyle Shanahan doesn’t display his weakness for squandering leads like he did in two Super Bowls, in Atlanta, and almost against Dallas last year.

  8. Bench Hufanga and Lenoir? ..I think the assessment by Old Coach hit it on the head…but, another thing to consider with DB play is D Line play, pressure on the QB and containing a QB…..they all work hand in hand..little or no pressure on the QB, allowing the QB to leave the pocket and ad lib, while his receivers move freely? Big plays are bound to happen, as we saw on Sunday….and in the playoffs, the officials are gonna have the ‘let’s let ‘em play’ mindset..so don’t count on many holding calls while 97 is raising hell, unless they’re blatantly obvious…

    * Shanahan believes 49ers got good Banks, Greenlaw injury news….Hoping both should be available for first post season playoff game.
    * 9ers consider running back Christian McCaffrey day-to-day with an ankle injury. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel and running back Elijah Mitchell could return this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
    * If the 49ers gain the No. 1 seed, they would have a first-round bye in the playoffs. Otherwise, the team will open the playoffs Jan. 14, 15 or 16. The 49ers are hoping the roster will be about as healthy as it has been all season for the start of the postseason…..

    1. Hamlin situation leaves existing playoff schedule doubtful. The following week is more likely. But we’ll see. Hope the young guy pulls out of this. Such a shocking thing to witness.

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