Ambry Thomas

49ers veteran CB Ward assesses development of Thomas, Lenoir

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SANTA CLARA -- Top defensive back Charvarius 'Mooney' Ward believes his young counterparts have made strides this offseason and in 49ers training camp.

Both Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir have faced challenges in their first two NFL seasons, but Ward has witnessed improvement by both defensive backs and expects to see results during the upcoming 2023 NFL season.

"A.T. was working out with me in Dallas a lot this summer," Ward said on Thursday. "I tried to help his body get stronger and teach him how to be a pro and back-pedal and everything like that. I definitely see improvement in his game, but you can get better every day.

"He's getting better. We will see how he continues to progress."

The 49ers had high hopes for Thomas when they selected him with the No. 102 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. But sitting out of the 2020 season at Michigan presented a challenge of adjusting to the speed of the NFL game. Towards the end of his rookie campaign, began to figure things out.

Thomas started the final five 2021 regular season games and two of the 49ers' three playoff appearances. Last season was a different story, as Thomas only was on the field for 41 defensive snaps and 138 on special teams.

"He’s growing up," Ward said. "Hopefully he continues to do the same thing. I believe in A.T. He’s got a lot of talent and abilities. He just had to keep it up and know it’s a cut throat business and just because you were drafted in the third round doesn't mean you're going to be a starter on a team."

Lenoir, whose has had the opposite trajectory as Thomas, also has been impressing Ward throughout camp. After playing on 237 defensive snaps -- 29 percent -- in his rookie year, the Oregon product started 13 games and was on the field for 83 percent of the 49ers' defensive plays last season.

"He’s been going steady," Ward said of Lenoir. "I feel like he's balling out in camp this year. As a [defensive backs] group, we haven't made a lot of plays on the ball, but there's a lot of good coverage. I'm impressed with Demo. He's been competing every day. He's the hyena. He's a dog, so he's doing his thing."

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Ward projects the group will continue to improve under defensive coordinator Steve Wilks' tutelage.

As far as his own future, Ward has his eyes on All-Pro honors during the 2023 NFL season.

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