49ers ‘Spruce up’ DB Room by Adding Ex-$ 2 Million CB: Report

George Kittle

Getty George Kittle tries to break away from Isaiah Oliver during their December 15, 2019 game in Santa Clara.

On a day Jimmie Ward and his signing to the Houston Texans became finalized on the league’s official start of the 2023 calendar, the San Francisco 49ers immediately addressed the position Ward vacates on Wednesday, March 15 — and brought in someone to help “spruce up” the 49ers’ DB room.

First reported by Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, Atlanta Falcons defensive back Isaiah Oliver has agreed to terms with the Niners. The move officially ends a five-year run in Atlanta. Oliver was on a one-year, $2.3 million deal that made him an unrestricted free agent for this cycle.

Oliver’s addition was immediately met with praise from 49ers insider for The Athletic David Lombardi, who praised his versatility and can also man the spot Emmanuel Moseley (signed a one-year, $6 million with the Detroit Lions) bequeaths. Lombardi believes this is the guy who spruces up the 49ers’ DB room.

“New 49ers CB Isaiah Oliver has demonstrated the ability to play outside OR slot cornerback in the NFL — and this versatility is certainly a huge selling point for SF, which is looking to replace nickelback Jimmie Ward AND spruce up its cornerback room, which lost Emmanuel Moseley,” Lombardi said.

Furthermore, Lombardi added how the 49ers now feature two of the best run-stuffing cornerbacks in the newly restructured Charvarius Ward and Oliver.

Breakdown: Improving Coverage Defender Coming to S.F.

When Oliver entered the league out of Colorado, he was given a first and second round grade and also played college football with former 49er Ahkello Witherspoon in the Buffaloes’ defensive backfield.

“Oliver possesses an outstanding combination of size, speed and length and those traits are highly coveted by NFL general managers,” draft expert for nfl.com Lance Zierlein once wrote.

Oliver, 26, may not be a household name for his position. But his quiet production with the Falcons could lead to some serious noise being made in this secondary he’s walking into.

For starters, Oliver has a history of hitting 70 tackles (2020 season), crashing down the line of scrimmage (seven career tackles for a loss per Pro Football Reference) and getting sacks on cornerback blitzes with two in his pro career. But his coverage ability in 2022 should increase the intrigue among the 49ers Faithful.

In 12 games, the 6-foot, 210-pounder only allowed one game of surrendering six catches. After that game against the Los Angeles Chargers, he went on a seven-game streak of allowing between zero to three receptions his side. And in every contest, he didn’t allow more than 70 receiving yards his alley per PFR Advanced Stats. And that production came after being limited with a knee injury in 2021 and allowing three games of 90 receiving yards or higher in 2020.

And when playing the slot, Oliver allowed only a 72.4 QB rating per Lombardi.

‘Valuable Versatility’ Coming

The 49ers needed CB help following the loss of Moseley. Then needed nickelback and safety help once Jimmie Ward left.

They’re capable of getting all three out of Oliver. He’s already expected to be in the mix to take over for the longtime 49ers captain.

“The team can resurrect the idea of shifting Lenoir into the slot while Oliver plays on the outside, or it can simply slide Oliver into the nickelback spot that Ward vacated,” Lombardi wrote. “That’s a critical role in the modern NFL, especially in a division that features star receivers Cooper Kupp and Tyler Lockett — both of whom line up frequently on the inside.”

Lastly, Oliver’s new defensive coordinator is a mastermind of DB play in Steve Wilks, who Lombardi believes helped orchestrate this move.

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