Deommodore Lenoir

49ers' Lenoir to face longtime foe St. Brown vs. Lions

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SANTA CLARA — Deommodore Lenoir will face a very familiar foe in the 49ers' NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

When San Francisco's defense lines up opposite the Detroit Lions, the Oregon product will have his chance to cover a player that he has known since he was 14 — receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.

“I feel the competition is even higher because in my head I’m thinking, ‘I’m better than you,' ” Lenoir said Wednesday. “And I know he’s thinking the same thing. It’s that type of level.”

It wasn’t just 7-on-7 football where the two Los Angeles natives faced off. Lenoir attended the University of Oregon, while St. Brown attended USC. Their college teams would play twice during their eligibility in 2019 and 2020, and the Ducks won both contests.

“Where we come from, and how people are looking at it back home, it’s like who is going to have a better game,” Lenoir said. “So it’s real competition. It’s bigger than just a team thing.”

Lenoir has been having a break-out third season with the 49ers after they drafted him in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The feisty cornerback started all 17 games for San Francisco in 2023, registering 84 tackles — 58 solo, one for a loss, 10 pass break ups and three interceptions.

Lenoir is looking forward to seeing his “old friend” on the field Sunday afternoon on one of the NFL's biggest stages. 

“He’s a relentless competitor and a real dog,” Lenoir said. “A very confident player. I know Sunday he is going to come to play, so I got to come, hold up my end, and come play too.”

Lenoir has succeeded with the added challenge of playing not only on the outside as a cornerback, but as the 49ers' nickel when called upon. In a completely different role, the 24-year-old has stepped up to the challenge of playing the run, understanding the gap-schemes and reading the pre-snap motions. 

Wherever Lenoir lines up, he will have his chance to guard Jared Goff’s No. 1 target in St. Brown, who has spent nearly an equal amount of snaps in the slot as he has out wide. St. Brown registered 1,525 yards on 119 receptions on his way to his First-Team All-Pro honors this season.

“He's a confident player, and he’s smart, also,” Lenoir said. “He knows how to use his leverage and knows how to get open. Jared Goff does a great job of finding a way to get him open, throwing him open.”

While Lenoir has a lot of respect for his long-time friend and on-field foe, there was a little extra glint in his eye when he expressed how ready he is for this matchup.

“Much respect to him, but I’m coming to play, too,” Lenoir said.

St. Brown vs. Lenoir will be one of the more interesting battles to watch Sunday when the NFC title game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. PT at Levi’s Stadium.

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