Ambry Thomas

49ers' Ambry Thomas ‘different player' after disappointing 2022

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Coming off a disappointing 2022 NFL season, 49ers cornerback Ambry Thomas has taken the necessary steps to not get left behind.

He appeared to carry over his momentum from the offseason and first three weeks of training camp into the 49ers’ preseason opener Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium.

“I thought he did a good job,” coach Kyle Shanahan said after the 49ers’ 34-7 loss to the Raiders.

“I think Ambry, starting off in OTAs, and all the way to training camp, he's come back a different player than he was last year.”

Thomas takes full responsibility for his disappearing act last year.

The 49ers selected him in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Michigan. The club felt he had the elite physical traits to become a very good professional. All he needed was to get stronger.

Thomas got his chance late in his rookie season when the 49ers became decimated at the cornerback position.

Jason Verrett sustained a torn ACL in the season opener. Deommodore Lenoir, a Week 1 starter, struggled and was benched.  Veteran additions Josh Norman and Dre Kirkpatrick provided no answers, either.

Thomas ended up starting five games down the stretch. His overtime interception of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford while covering Odell Beckham on a deep route clinched a playoff berth for the 49ers.

Thomas seemingly entered 2022 with an opportunity to establish himself as a key component of the team's defense.

"I felt like I had it figured out,” Thomas recently told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Instead, Thomas tumbled down the depth chart.

Lenoir came back a stronger, determined player to solidify a starting role, while Thomas lost weight and actually got weaker.

Having realized his mistake, Thomas looks like a stronger, more determined player this summer. He is playing with a greater sense of urgency, and it showed on Sunday during his 35 snaps of action.

He made two tackles in run support, including a play in which he teamed up with defensive lineman Kerry Hyder for a fourth-down stop. He also broke up a pass. His only noticeable negative was a penalty for defensive holding.

Thomas’ performance was something Shanahan said he would be watching closely after leaving Las Vegas to return to the Bay Area. Shanahan's initial thought was Thomas had an encouraging outing.

“It looked like that from the sidelines.” Shanahan said. “I thought he flew around, made a couple tackles, and I'm excited to watch him on the plane when I see the film.”

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