Ex-$2 Million Defender Shares the Strengths He’s Bringing to the 49ers

The newest member of the defensive back room for the San Francisco 49ers did more than just send a nine second video expressing his excitement about playing in front of the 49ers Faithful.

Isaiah Oliver detailed what strengths he’s bringing to the league’s best defense, as the former $2.385 million defensive back for the Atlanta Falcons addressed the Bay Area media on Thursday, March 16 for the first time since his signing. And the strengths he outlined point to a newcomer ready to immediately fill a needed area.

“I feel like my strengths are just being able to get around the ball, be a strong tackler, be able to make plays on the ball in that way,” Oliver shared to reporters. “I feel like that’s something that I’ve excelled at over the past couple of years, for sure, and still getting better at, in that way. So that’s kind of what I’m looking forward to help bring to the team.”

He’s bringing those elements during a time the Niners are moving forward without versatile captain Jimmie Ward, who has since signed with the Houston Texans to play for former 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. And Oliver acknowledged that the 49ers lured him in to be a similar DB who can play multiple spots a la Ward.

“As I understand it, I’m here just to kind of be versatile and help in any way I can, really,” Oliver said. “I think we kind of got to take the time to see where I fit in and what that kind of looks like going forward through OTAs, through training camp, and stuff like that. But my goal is really just to come in and help the team in any way.”

Coverage Strengths Should Win Over 49ers

Before Oliver entered the league out of Colorado, Oliver was given this first sentence in his draft evaluation by nfl.com draft expert Lance Zierlein.

“Oliver possesses an outstanding combination of size, speed and length and those traits are highly coveted by NFL general managers,” he wrote. He added how he possessed “Elite size and speed with arms that go on and on for days.”

Those arms and speed were on great display four years after that evaluation in Atlanta. Oliver, when tested, used his wingspan and closing speed to his advantage by forcing incompletions including in the red zone. But he also showed hops against the 49ers for his lone interception of the 2022 season.

The Niners have something here with their new nickel cornerback, Isaiah Oliver…

Here’s a look at Isaiah’s tape from 2022 🗜 pic.twitter.com/m6L5mNnpxP

— Coach Yac 🗣 (@Coach_Yac) March 16, 2023

Also, on three occasions, the Falcons allowed him to blitz from his nickelback spot. Two of those pressures ended with a QB knockdown and sack. But of course, his coverage ability is what’s expected to blend into a DB room with Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir as an emerging tandem plus Talanoa Hufanga and returning safety Tashaun Gipson helping the back end.

Oliver didn’t surrender a touchdown his side nor surrendered more than 70 receiving yards his way per Pro Football Reference Advanced Stats. And as he told reporters, he grew into a comfort zone in his final season playing his role with the Falcons.

“I definitely felt much more comfortable in there,” Oliver said. “I felt like I was able to kind of play to my strengths a little more. Just being around the ball, kind of being in the run fit, things like that. I felt real comfortable doing [that], and I like doing a lot. I felt like it was a lot more fun, for sure. So that’s something that I definitely kind of grown towards, for sure.”

Oliver Adds What he’s Looking Forward to With 49ers Defense

While he’s energized by the fresh start, Oliver shared this part that excites him about being a 49er: The defensive line.

“It’s definitely exciting,” Oliver admits. “That’s definitely something that the 49ers are very known for around the NFL. Definitely something that they’ve been really, really good at for the last few years. So it’s definitely intriguing to me, for sure.”

And as he realizes, the link between DBs and defensive linemen can energize the former.

“I feel like any defensive position, especially in the back seven, you really want a strong defensive line. That’s exciting for you,” Oliver said. “The quarterback has to get the ball out quicker. Things like that makes it harder for them. So, yeah, I’m definitely excited to work with those guys. Those are All-Pro-level-type guys.”

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