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Isaiah Oliver Eager to Bring Veteran Leadership, Super Bowl Experience to Jets

Newly Acquired Defensive Back Played in 16 Games, Including 3 Postseason Contests, for the 49ers Last Season

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Isaiah Oliver after an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

When the Jets newly acquired CB Isaiah Oliver first played for Jeff Ulbrich in Atlanta, he was a rookie with a lot of learn. He got a first-rate education from the current Jets DC, reunited with Ulbrich again in New York, and entering his seventh season in the NFL, Oliver wants to return the favor by being a veteran leader for the Jets' secondary.

"I am very excited to play for coach Ulbrich again," Oliver said. "He is obviously one of the better coaches in the NFL in my opinion. He was a great coach for us in Atlanta. I got to know him pretty well and learned a ton from him and the other coaches and now he is here as defensive coordinator. I am excited get back to playing for him, as well as play for [defensive backs and safeties] coach Marquand Manuel."

Oliver was drafted by the Falcons in the second round (No. 58) of the 2018 NFL Draft and played in 62 games (38 starts) in five seasons. He recorded 2 interceptions, 34 pass defenses and 153 tackles for Atlanta while playing safety, cornerback and nickel.

"I pride myself on being versatile," Oliver said. "I am experienced in the secondary playing all five positions. I also pride myself on being able to help lead and help the guys out with whatever they need. Whatever the role is that say see fit for me here, I am looking forward to it."

Ulbrich joined the Falcons coaching staff under head coach Dan Quinn in 2015 as a linebackers coach. He spend four years in that role before being promoted to assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in 2020 after Quinn was fired and Raheem Morris was named the interim head coach. From 2018 to 2020, Oliver played in 46 games (30 starts) under Quinn and Ulbrich and had an interception, 24 pass defenses, 2 forced fumbles and 121 tackles. He went from playing 22.1% (143) of the snaps as a rookie to starting 28 games combined over 2019 and 2020, and playing 87% of the defensive snaps (1,717) over those two seasons.

"I think the main reason I wanted to sign here comes from watching the Jets over the past few years and I saw the change in culture and change in defense specifically with [HC Robert] Saleh and Ulbrich coming there," Oliver said. "I love the way they play the game; it is intriguing and a thing I want to be a part of."

Oliver joins a cornerback room that already features two-time First-Team All-Pro CB Sauce Gardner, and standout CBs D.J. Reed and Michael Carter II (nickel). The Jets' defense finished No. 2 in passing yards allowed (168.3 yards per game) and No. 4 in passing TDs allowed (11).

"The cornerback room is obviously already a great room," Oliver said. "They have three really really good players. I am just going to add in some leadership and some knowledge. Going into my seventh year, I can be a veteran and be able to help them out in any way that I can."

Oliver, 27, is excited to share his knowledge of playing in big games with the Jets' relatively young secondary. He spent last season with the 49ers and played in 17 games (6 starts). In the postseason, Oliver played primarily on special teams and helped the San Francisco reach the Super Bowl, where the Niners ultimately lost to the Chiefs.

"It was interesting, because I was able to figure out and learn what it takes to get to that game, the Super Bowl," Oliver said. "Obviously, we came up short, but I still learned what it takes throughout the whole season and the ups and downs that you will go through and the mindset that you need to have to make it all the way."

In addition, Oliver has been a willing participant on special teams throughout his career. With the starting roles in the secondary most likely secured by Gardner, Reed and Carter II heading into next season, Oliver is ready to be a contributor on punt and kick teams.

"Special teamers are sort of the unsung heroes of the game," Oliver said. "That is the reputation it has, but it is just as important as anything else. Obviously one play can change the game, that can happen on offense, defense or special teams. So, understanding that it is just as important as anything else and taking pride in that helps."

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