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“He’s a baller”: John Lynch explains rookie Ji’Ayir Brown’s fit among 49ers safeties

Apr 28, 2023 at 9:43 PM--

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What do the San Francisco 49ers love about their newest safety, rookie Ji'Ayir Brown?

"He's a baller," general manager John Lynch shared. "I think he's got the components of what makes up a Niner. We had consensus [from] coaches to scouts. It was all around the building. He really solidified that with his tape. But then he came here on a 30 visit, and he's just got this infectious personality."

Brown had a 40-time of 4.65 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, making some question his speed and explosiveness. The 49ers aren't concerned.

"I know something's been made about him not running a real fast 40," Lynch continued. "Our R&D department has [him among] some of the fastest times amongst the safety stack, so I think he plays fast. He's good up towards the ball, and ball production. Ten interceptions over the last couple of years. He's just a really good football player."

Brown was a team captain at Penn State. New 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks campaigned to add the safety. The team traded up to select Brown with the No. 87 overall pick, sending the Nos. 102, 164, and 222 selections to the Minnesota Vikings to get the defender.

"Everybody in the building wanted that guy," Lynch said. "[He was] our top target of the guys we identified that we thought had the best chance of being there in the third, where we picked. We didn't think he'd be there at 99. I didn't think he'd be there."

Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah initially turned down the 49ers' trade offer, but Lynch and his staff were persistent and got the deal done.

What does the addition of Brown mean for the future of the 49ers' safety positions? Veteran Tashaun Gipson flirted with the idea of retiring this offseason but returned to the team on a one-year deal. San Francisco has an All-Pro playing next to him in Talanoa Hufanga. The team's starters appear to be set.

"I think we feel pretty good about Gip and Huf," Lynch explained. "They played really well at a really high level. We're not just giving people jobs, and Kyle can speak more to that, but we felt like we could add to the depth of that position.

"And Ji'Ayir is a guy, he can come in, play special teams right away and learn the safety position. He's got good versatility to his game, and I think he'll be a great compliment to those guys."

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