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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Ji’Ayir Brown, Jake Moody, Cameron Latu discuss being drafted by the 49ers

Apr 28, 2023 at 10:52 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers' three selections from day two of the 2023 NFL Draft spoke with reporters after each pick was made. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

S Ji'Ayir Brown

I know that you came out here on a visit earlier this month, can you talk about how that visit went and who you talked to? How do you see yourself fitting in here?

"The visit went great. I talked to everybody around the facility and it really felt like home. It gave me a similar version to how Penn State felt, just a family-oriented environment. I had a great visit in San Francisco, and I knew from the time I left the visit that it was the best visit I had been on, and that's where I belonged."

How has this last week been for you and what was today like? Where are you? Who are you with? Tell us the story of when you got the call.

"This last week has been amazing. I've really been anticipating this moment. Leading up to today, I told the family, 'just come out and support and God will handle the rest.' We ended up where we are supposed to be and I feel really strong about San Francisco."

Who called you? Who did you talk to? What was the conversation like?

"I got the call from the DC [Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks]. It was so loud in there, I could barely hear them. I was trying to talk to them and all the family was screaming around me and I was trying to get away from them so I could hear. It was amazing. It was a great feeling that can only come once in your lifetime, so I'm definitely taking in this moment. Im very appreciative."

You have had an interesting journey. I'm sure a lot of people didn't expect you to be a third round pick in the NFL Draft. Did you expect that from yourself, say, three years ago?

"I always knew I had the talent but I just didn't know the path that God had set for me. I knew I was going to be in the NFL Draft, I knew I would be drafted, I didn't know when or where. But I knew I had the talent and I was more than capable of playing in the NFL."

Your nickname is Tig, after Tigger the Tiger. How did that start?

"It started from Winnie the Pooh. When I was a baby I would always bounce around a lot. I wasn't even a year old and I would bounce around on my mom's lap a lot, so she started calling me Tigger the Tiger. As I got older it started to stick with me. I was just like, 'you know what? Let's chop a couple letters off, call me Tig.' Everybody started calling me Tig and it has been like my real name, a substitute for my real name, since I was a baby."

You're a New Jersey guy, what do you know about California, the West Coast and Bay Area culture?

"Yeah, I trained out in California for three months. My first time on the West Coast and it was a great experience. I was in Westlake at the Proactive facility. It was a great experience over there. There is definitely different views than New Jersey, different weather than New Jersey, but it was a lifestyle I can get used to and I can learn to love."

How familiar are you with the 49ers safeties? S Talanoa Hufanga, S Tashaun Gipson Sr., did you talk to any of them when you were out here?

"No, I did not talk to any of them but I'm more excited than anybody to conversate with those guys, learn from those guys, piggyback off of each other and see how we can help this team win a Super Bowl."

K Jake Moody

Your thoughts on joining the 49ers and whether you anticipated this?

"I'm so fired up. I've built a pretty good relationship with [former 49ers K] Robbie Gould actually these past few months, and he's been telling me how great it is. He actually just texted me a few minutes ago saying how excited he is for me and telling me how great of a place it is. [P] Mitch [Wishnowsky] and [LS] Taybor [Pepper], they're great guys that I'm going to get to work with. I'm so fired up."

How did you connect with Robbie?

"Robbie and I actually have the same agent, so obviously connected through that. I'm not sure if he felt the need to kind of pass the torch down to a newer guy in the league, but he's been a really good mentor these past few months. He's been helping me out with a ton of stuff, whether it was combine stuff, preparing for the draft or all the workouts, he's been there the whole way and I'm very happy that he has."

There is going to be a lot of pressure coming in here to a championship team, but I'm guessing you're savoring that possibility. What are your thoughts on the type of team you're joining?

"It is obviously a great team that I'm joining, I couldn't be happier. Anything that I can do to help the team win a Super Bowl, that's obviously the goal. It is obviously already a great team to be a part of and I'm so excited."

Your college coach Jim Harbaugh coached here. What has he told you about the organization and about being in California?

"Well, he hasn't talked about his NFL days too much, but from what I know he really enjoyed it out there. He took the team really far while he was there. He's only said good things about it, so I'm just really looking forward to getting there and seeing it for myself."

Another Robbie Gould question. Were you guys in-person with some of this stuff and if so, where did you guys connect?

"I've only gotten to meet him once in-person and that was at the combine, actually. He was back home in Chicago and he decided to drive down a few hours to Indianapolis and have dinner with me and our agent. That was very nice of him, to make that drive down there just to meet up with me for the first time and get to chat over dinner. Like I said, he's been great this whole process and I'm very happy that he's been a part of it."

TE Cameron Latu

How much time have you spent studying TE George Kittle and just the way the 49ers use tight ends in this offense?

"Man, that's all I watch, especially the run game. I try to model my game after George. I watched him after these last two years with my tight ends coach and just tried to take tools that he's been using in the run game and passing game and apply them to my game. To team up with him and be on the same team is a blessing, to be able to learn under him."

Can you just talk about your evolution from switching from tight end and how that's gone, and where you think you're headed?

"I transitioned from being a tight end following my freshman year. I just kind of took it from year to year, and day to day, and now I'm at the position where I'm at just trying to be consistent day to day and find a routine for myself. I'll continue to do that when I enter the NFL and just progress my game daily. I can't wait to see where it heads with this coaching staff and the players around me."

Why did you want to make the move? What did you see yourself doing?

"When coach Sarkisian came into the picture with the offensive coordinator position at Alabama, he kind of questioned to see if I wanted to play the position. Then [Alabama head] coach [Nick] Saban asked me the same question because we needed bodies at tight end. I played the position in high school and could fit the position he thought. I made the switch for the team and it ended up being a great switch for myself. I started developing towards that position daily and finding weaknesses every day."

What do you know about the 49ers, their offense and how they use their tight ends? Obviously, you're going to be on the field a lot with George Kittle. What do you think about the dual role that you might be in?

"I watched a lot of their tape. A lot of the stuff we did at Alabama we stole from the 49ers because their run game package is pretty phenomenal. The key factors of George Kittle's blocking and his technique, I learned a lot from him in that part of the game. Then you go to the passing game and he does the same thing just as well. YAC, after the catch, I just know they really use the tight end heavy and I'm excited to go learn under that offense."

What do you think your strengths are as a tight end? You talked about run blocking and pass catching, what do you think is the strongest part of your game?

"I think I'm a balanced tight end. I think I can do it all. You can put me in any position and I think I could be excellent at it. Like I said, I have every place to improve in both passing and run blocking, but that's just technical things that I can work on. That's what I'm going to attack daily when I get there."

They said on the draft broadcast that it seemed like you were getting better and better as the season went on, that your best games came at the end. Did you feel that out there, that your confidence was growing as the season went on?

"Yeah, definitely. I gain as much of my confidence through preparation, through recovery and getting my body right, and just getting ready for the games on Saturday. I am confident in my preparation and what I do in practice."

Who did you talk to at the 49ers? What was your visit like or what were your conversations like with the 49ers personnel?

"I spent about two hours with [tight end] coach [Brian] Fleury watching film. The way he dissects film is just amazing. He is very detailed and I can't wait to be coached by him. I'm very excited. I talked to Mr. [GM John] Lynch, I talked to [head coach Kyle] coach Shanahan, the OC, I talked to everybody, the whole staff. I just can't wait to go down there and just get going. I can't wait."

You're part of the Polynesian culture. S Talanoa Hufanga is out here. How does it feel to represent your culture in the NFL?

"It is huge. I got my family out here in Dallas with me. I was on the phone with Talanoa right after I got drafted, so it is crazy. Me and him are going to turn up, for sure, and he's going to make me better every day."

What is your history with Talanoa? How long have you guys known each other? What is your friendship like?

"He was in the 2018 class and the number one athlete coming out of high school, so that's what I've known him as. I met him at a couple camps and the fact that we were both Polynesian made us magnets to each other. We met each other and I followed his career. He's been doing it in the NFL and made All-Pro last year. He's the real deal so I can't wait to go work with him and he's going to make me better every day."


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