While a certain 49ers rookie cornerback has been generating a lot of buzz lately, another one has been flying under the radar despite having a solid preseason. Samuel Womack is more than deserving of the praise he is receiving, but in a way, it has overshadowed just how good San Francisco’s other rookie nickel back, Qwuantrezz Knight, has been
The undrafted cornerback out of UCLA has steadily climbed the depth chart at the position throughout training camp. Knight was a full-time nickel during his final season at UCLA, starting all twelve games in the slot in 2021.
That experience has been evident as Knight has looked like a natural in that role to begin his NFL career. In addition, Knight has been solid in coverage, not allowing a single reception across two preseason games. Knight also recorded an interception during the team period of the 49ers’ joint practices with the Minnesota Vikings.
While the coverage skills have been fantastic, what has impressed me most about Knight is his ability to tackle in the open field and disrupt opposing teams rushing attacks. A couple of plays against the Vikings demonstrated Knight’s ability to affect the game beyond his coverage skills.
The first came on a 1st & 10 from the Viking’s 1-yard line. The Vikings’ offense attempts to run to the right side, but Knight remains disciplined in his run fit, allowing him to explode into the C gap to bring down the back.
Rookie cornerback Qwuantrezz Knight has had a really impressive preseason— Jordan Elliott (@JLeeElliott) August 23, 2022
Knight hasn't allowed a single reception in two preseason games, building on a strong training camp performance
Knight has also been very disciplined in his run fits, great example with this rep here: pic.twitter.com/5HRYFgx5D6
The second came on a play where Knight showed off his instincts and closing speed to bear down on Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond as he attempted to scramble from the pocket. Knight takes a great angle to the ball carrier and makes a solid play to bring Mond down before he could pick up a good chunk of yardage.
Late night Qwuantrezz Knight pic.twitter.com/GSJ90AyaYE— Jordan Elliott (@JLeeElliott) August 24, 2022
Knight led all defenders at UCLA in both tackles and tackles for loss during his final season, so it should not be surprising to see how effectively Knight has been bringing down opposing players.
I also like what I’ve seen from Knight as a blitzer, which is a big deal considering how essential it is to be a weapon rushing the passer from that spot in this defense. Knight is quick off the snap and does an excellent job of not tipping his intentions before the snap.
Knight and his preseason performance is a perfect example of how hard it can be to maintain perspective when evaluating a roster as talented as the 49ers’ is from top to bottom.
By all accounts, Knight is getting better day after day, and even if he doesn’t end up on the final 53-man roster, I imagine the 49ers’ will find a way to retain his services via the practice squad.