Lynch: Lenoir's trial by fire led to breakout 2022 season


INDIANAPOLIS -- General manager John Lynch didn’t hold back when describing cornerback Deommodore Lenoir’s second season with the 49ers. 

“One of my favorite things when I was a player and now as a general manager is to watch players have breakthroughs,” Lynch said while at the NFL Combine. “I think this was a breakthrough year for Deommodore.” 

The Oregon product found himself in a starting role opposite of Charvarius “Mooney” Ward after Emmanuel Moseley suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 5. After repeatedly being targeted by opposing quarterbacks, Lenoir proved himself fully capable of the job.

Lenoir finished the 2022 NFL season with a career-high three interceptions. He picked off passes in both of the 49ers' playoff wins against the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys.

“He withstood some adversity where people were going after him,” Lynch said. “The only way to put out the fire is to start making plays. The coolest thing about him is he kind of broke through that. And it wasn’t easy. There’s another corner on the other side in Mooney Ward that people really respect so people were going to go after the other guy. 

“By the end, I wasn’t so sure. In some cases, they were throwing at Mooney. I think that speaks a lot about the fortitude, mentally and physically of Deommodore.” 

It wasn’t a direct line to locking in a starting position for Lenoir who saw a sizable amount of playing time at the beginning of his rookie campaign. Personal matters stunted his development, leading to him to being a healthy scratch more times than he was active in 2021. 

Lenoir appeared to turn the corner in his second season.

RELATED: Lynch: 49ers keeping door open for reunion with CB Moseley

“We believed in him as a player coming in,” Lynch said. “It’s a hard position to play, it’s a hard position to get thrown into the fire. We are really proud of the young man; he’s going to be a big part of us moving forward.”

Lynch is keeping the door open for Moseley to potentially return, considering the 49ers' need for secondary depth. The general manager spoke of Lenoir’s abilities to play on both the inside and outside as a reason why the the trio of defensive backs -- Lenoir, Ward and Moseley -- would be a favorable combination for the club moving forward.

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