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Kyle Shanahan on 49ers rookie Ji’Ayir Brown: “It feels like we got the right guy”

Oct 2, 2023 at 4:46 PM--

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Ji'Ayir Brown has seen most of his workload come on special teams. Although, the rookie safety has played 13 snaps with the San Francisco 49ers defense over the last two games after playing none in the first two. The coaches appear to be easing the young defender into the thick of things.

Brown is expected to eventually take over for Tashaun Gipson, the 33-year-old veteran who flirted with retirement this offseason. That would mean eventually pairing Brown with young All-Pro safety Talanoa Hufanga, creating an intriguing tandem in the defensive backfield.

San Francisco made Brown a third-round pick out of Penn State this year, a move that has likely pleased the entire coaching staff.

"Him going through the season with us so far, it feels like we got the right guy," head coach Kyle Shanahan said via a conference call on Monday. "I mean, just the way he carries himself each day on the practice field, he's really owned his role. When he's taking the backup reps at safety, he's getting better in all of it. The special teams stuff, he gets better each week, and he's become a real force out there."

Brown's impact on the defense may be minimal at this point, but his 11 defensive snaps against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday were the most he's had in a single game. While Brown has tallied a modest two tackles this season, everyone sees the potential in the young player.

"I know how much confidence [special teams coordinator Brian] Schneider has in him on our special teams, and when he does get his opportunity, he's going to be ready," Shanahan added. "He does everything the right way, and he's a very good football player, and guy that I'm real glad that we have here."

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