Shanahan praises Lenoir’s ‘unbelievable’ play vs. Seahawks originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
SANTA CLARA — With Charvarius “Mooney” Ward sidelined early in the 49ers’ 28-16 win over the Seattle Seahawks, Deommodore Lenoir was forced to step up, and coach Kyle Shanahan was impressed by the young defensive back.
“I thought he played great,” Shanahan said via conference call on Monday. “We started out expecting to be nickel for most of that game. Mooney going down there on the second play, we had to switch it real fast and he didn’t even hesitate.”
Lenoir was targeted five times, only allowing two catches for 10 yards. The third-year corner was covering Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf on two targets, allowing no catches.
The Oregon product also broke up two passes and forced two interceptions. Lenoir nearly held on to one pass intended for Noah Fant at the beginning of the second half, but did maintain possession of another pick near the end of the game. Unfortunately for Lenoir, the interception was nullified by Nick Bosa being called for being offsides.
“He challenged the receivers all game, was able to come up with that interception that Nick took away from him,” Shanahan said. “Then he almost had that first one that just deflected off his hands. So, I thought Demo was unbelievable in the game.”
Lenoir’s game wasn’t perfect, blemished mostly by the skirmish that caused him to be ejected toward the end of the fourth quarter. Fred Warner picked off a Drew Lock pass intended for DK Metcalf who tackled the linebacker and threw him to the ground.
After laterally passing the ball to Dre Greenlaw, Warner pushed the receiver into the grass in order to help block on the play. When Metcalf went to retaliate, Lenoir got in between the two players multiple times.
Lenoir’s on-field persona is so competitive that after the game, teammate Nick Bosa jokingly compared the cornerback to a “little rabid dog.”
Of course, being thrown out of a game for unnecessary roughness is taking the physicality too far.
“He reached out to me last night,” Shanahan said. “He already knew how we’d feel about it. That’s something we feel very strong about. We’ll play as physical as anyone in this league, but we never go anywhere past what football is.
“I love how he’s got all his guys’ backs and everything, but everyone else on our team has their backs also and that’s not what we do. We don’t throw punches to get penalties and we definitely don’t do it to get ejected. He was very remorseful of it and I believe it. It was a good lesson learned. I think he’ll be much better about that in the future.”
Lenoir’s development has even been noticed by his offensive teammates. Trent Williams didn’t see his performance on the field on Sunday, but the left tackle has been impressed by the young player stepping up in his third season.
“Demo has made the biggest leap out of anyone on this team, from last year to this year,” Williams said. He’s playing amazing, inside, outside, he’s tackling and defending the pass, pass breakups. He got an interception that got taken away, but still great play, great coverage.
“He’s playing his butt off right now and the whole team is proud of him.”