San Francisco 49ers are making a very smart choice with second-round rookie Renardo Green

The 49ers made a draft selection to avoid a potential future free agent departures when they took Renardo Green in the first round.

Now, as he takes the first steps in his 49ers career, they are making a smart decision that could help get Green on the field as a rookie.

Green’s selection sent a clear signal that the Niners are preparing to lose one of Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir next offseason. Both players are free agents next offseason.

The former Florida State defender played the vast majority of his snaps at outside corner.

However, the 49ers believe Green has significant potential in the slot, despite him playing only 91 snaps on the inside across his final three seasons with Florida State.

And the Niners are going to test his versatility in that regard early in his career.

Defensive coordinator Nick Sorensen revealed on Friday that Green will start out at nickel.

“We’ll bring him along starting him out inside and see what he can do in there,” Sorensen said. “I think that’s something that if you can retain, you want to learn it earlier.

“We know what Deommodore Lenoir can do. Also Samuel Womack has done a really good job there these last couple weeks. (Green) will get some work outside too, because versatility (is important). We only have so many guys that dress on game day. You always have to have enough guys who can fill in if you have injuries.”

There’s every chance Green doesn’t take to the nickel role and the 49ers have to keep him at outside corner long term, however, giving him the chance to excel in that capacity is a smart high-upside play.

San Francisco’s coaches have made no secret of the fact they love the flexibility Lenoir brings in being able to start at two spots. Last season’s stretch run saw Lenoir start on the outside on base downs and kick in to the slot on nickel downs.

Green learning the nickel spot could allow him to play meaningful inside snaps as a rookie and lessen the burden on Lenoir.

At the same time, being able to play two positions would make Green an ideal successor to Lenoir, who at 24 is excellently placed to earn a very lucrative contract on the open market, one that may be beyond the financial means of the Niners in a year in which they will need to pay quarterback Brock Purdy.

The chances of Green being an immediate contributor and a long-term answer for the 49ers will improve if he impresses at nickel, though that is contingent on him vindicating San Francisco’s assessment of his tape.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said of Green after the draft:

“He played in college all on the outside and we like him for that. But we also think he’s wired the way you can be at nickel from a mentality in the run game, also the quickness in coverage. But you haven’t seen him do it, so we know he is wired for both. So we’ll just play it out on the practice field.”

How Green performs in his new role on the practice field in the coming weeks and months will play a large part in determining how the 49ers secondary looks in 2024 and beyond. If he excels, they will be in an excellent position for the present and the future, and the decision to make the change will look very astute.



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