Isaiah Oliver hopes versatility helps 49ers win games in 2023 NFL season
49ers newcomer Oliver hopes his versatility helps win games originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Newly signed defensive back Isaiah Oliver is ready to put his versatility to the test with the 49ers in 2023.
The former Atlanta Falcon spoke to local Bay Area media Thursday after officially signing a two-year contract, sharing that while his role has not yet been defined by the 49ers' coaching staff, he has been successful while playing predominantly in the slot.
“As I understand it, I’m here to be versatile and help in any way I can,” Oliver said on Thursday “Really, I think I got to take the time to see where I fit in and what that looks like going forward into OTA s and training camp. But my goal is to come in and help the team in any way.”
Oliver made his way back into the mix late in the 2022 NFL season after suffering an ACL injury in Week 4 of 2021. The Colorado product shared that physically, he didn’t feel like himself on the field until nearly December.
In five seasons, Oliver has racked up 203 tackles -- 153 solo, seven for loss -- and two interceptions through 62 games. The defensive back believes his nose for contact with bigger players in on the field comes not only from his physical stature but because of his “want to.”
The 6-foot, 210-pound defender does not shy away from contact, likening himself to ex-49ers slot corner K’Waun Williams who, after four seasons with the 49ers, signed with the Denver Broncos last March.
“I definitely felt more comfortable in there,” Oliver said. “I felt like I was able to play to my strengths a little more. Just being around the ball, being in the run fit, I felt really comfortable and I like doing it a lot.
“K’Waun Williams was here for a long time and he was one of the most sure tacklers in the league, and was never afraid to go in there and hit something.”
Oliver will join Charvarius “Mooney” Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, Ambry Thomas and Sam Womack on the field. With the departure of Jimmie Ward to the Houston Texans, the 49ers have a void to fill at nickel and Oliver is a perfect candidate.
“I feel my strengths are really just being able to get around the ball, be a strong tackler and be able to make plays on the ball in that way,” Oliver said. “It’s something that I’ve excelled at for the past couple of years and still getting better at it.”
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Oliver looks forward to finding his role while working with new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who came up through the ranks as a defensive backs coach. Oliver sees that as an opportunity he must take advantage of.
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