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What does Deommodore Lenoir’s strong postseason mean for the future of the 49ers secondary?

Lenoir came on strong when the 49ers needed him most. With his play and his contract, could he be CB2 in 2023?

NFL: JAN 22 NFC Divisional Playoffs - TBD at 49ers Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As the focus shifts toward the offseason and beyond, the 49ers and every other team in the NFL will be faced with some tough decisions as they look to retain talent while reshaping their rosters with the future in mind.

One area that has become complicated for the 49ers, is what they will do moving forward at the cornerback spot opposite of Charvarius Ward. Early in the season, that answer seemed clear, retain Emmanuel Moseley and maintain the ability to trot out one of the better cornerback duos in the entire league.

Unfortunately, the torn ACL Moseley suffered in Week 5 against the Carolina Panthers complicates the seamlessness of a move like that, with uncertainty around the timetable of Moseley’s return to the field likely complicating any potential deal between him and the 49ers.

Further complicating the decision to be made at the number two corner spot, was the standout play of Deommodore Lenoir in the postseason. Lenoir finished the 2022 playoffs by allowing just 5 catches on 13 targets for a grand total of 85 yards across three games against high-flying offenses.

That was capped off by a stellar performance in the NFC Championship, which was largely overshadowed due to the obvious unfortunate circumstances that had unfolded at the quarterback position for the 49ers.

While being tasked with covering arguably the most talented wide receiver in the league in DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown, Lenoir did not allow a single reception while only being targeted twice in coverage.

It was clear that Lenoir was getting better and more comfortable as the year went on, and the culminated in a playoff run that has to at least have the 49ers brass exploring the option of staying in-house and slotting Lenoir into that starting corner role should Moseley’s timetable be less than ideal and or if he decides to take his talents elsewhere on the open market.

An added benefit, should the 49ers decide to go that route, is that staying with Lenoir would give them a tremendous amount of financial flexibility to work with as they look to retain as many players as they can on a loaded roster littered with pending free agents.

According to Over The Cap, Lenoir is due to count a cap hit of just $1,011,217 in 2023 and $1,126,217 in 2024, which would give the 49ers a significantly cheaper starter at the position if Lenoir can maintain the high level of play he closed the 2022 season with.

At the end of the day, this 49ers defense was other worldly before Moseley went down. Even coming off the ACL injury, the first priority should be finding a way to retain the extremely talented Moseley and keep him on this roster for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, what should happen doesn’t always happen in the NFL, and if the 49ers are forced to pivot elsewhere at the position, they can find comfort in the fact that they have an in-house option who has proved capable of stepping up on the game's biggest stages.