Isaiah Oliver hopes versatility helps the 49ers win games in the 2023 NFL season

Newly signed defensive end Isaiah Oliver is ready to put his versatility to the test with the 49ers in 2023.

Speaking to local Bay Area media Thursday after officially signing a two-year contract, the former Atlanta Falcon shared that while his role has yet to be defined by the 49ers’ coaching staff, he has been successful while playing predominantly in the slot machine.

“As I understand it, I’m here to be versatile and help in any way I can,” Oliver said Thursday. “Really, I think I’ll have to take some time to see where I fit in and what that looks like going forward into OTAs and training camp. But my goal is to come in and help the team in any way.”

Oliver got 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 almost December.

In five seasons, Oliver has amassed 203 tackles – 153 solo, seven for loss – and two interceptions through 62 games. The defensive back believes his nose for contact with bigger players on the field comes not only from his physical stature, but because of his “will”.

The 6-foot, 210-pound defensive end doesn’t shy away from contact, comparing himself to former 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 a little bit more to my strengths. Just being around the ball, being in running shape, felt really good and I enjoy doing that a lot.

“K’Waun Williams was here for a long time and he was one of the surest tackles in the league and he was never afraid to go in there and hit something.”

Oliver joins 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 like my strengths are really just being able to get around the ball, being a strong tackler and being able to make plays on the ball like that,” Oliver said. “It’s something I’ve excelled at over the last few years and have continued to get better at.”

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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 it as an opportunity he must take advantage of.

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