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49ers 90-in-90: Is Isaiah Oliver the answer at Nickel?

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today is CB Isaiah Oliver

Atlanta Falcons v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The 49ers signed 26-year-old Isaiah Oliver to a two-year deal worth $6.75 million on March 15. Jimmie Ward departed for Houston as the primary nickel cornerback for the team. Oliver profiles as a candidate to fill that role and has a good feel for run defense at nickel.

Oliver has two career interceptions. The first came in 2018 as a member of the Atlanta Falcons (who selected him 58th overall in 2018), and the second came last year against the 49ers. Oliver is now two years removed from a season-ending injury suffered in 2021.

Samuel Womack is coming into his second season with the 49ers, which makes Oliver an option to compete for the nickel/slot role.

Basic Info

Age: 26

Experience: 5 accrued seasons

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 210 lbs.

Cap Status

Oliver’s base salary is $1.08 million for this season, with a cap hit of 1,686,000. $2.91 million of it is guaranteed at signing. Next year his contract goes up to $3.06 million, and his cap hit is 3,766,000.

How he can improve in 2023

In 2022, Oliver had a 17 percent missed tackle rate. The previous season, albeit with only 161 total snaps, Oliver had a 15.4 percent missed tackle rate. From 2019 to 2020, Oliver missed a total of 17 tackles.

Each year, according to PFF, Oliver’s tackling grade has decreased. Twenty-five missed tackles combined in three full seasons is a concern, but is correctable.

Where Oliver makes his mark

Nickel cornerbacks double as linebackers who can cover in certain situations. Oliver had his best season in run defense in 2022, grading out at 81.5 per PFF. In 2020 (over 800 snaps), Oliver graded out at 77.0.

Twenty-eight defensive stops in 2020 are impressive. Oliver added ten more in 2022. Cleaning up the missed tackles issue will be important, but Oliver isn’t shy to mix it up.

The 49ers are a physical group, and under Steve Wilks, Oliver will have every opportunity to succeed.