49ers pick Penn State safety Ji'Ayir Brown at No. 87 overall


SANTA CLARA — The 49ers made a selection Friday night intended to strengthen a defensive backfield that already appeared to have starters at every position.

San Francisco chose safety Ji’Ayir Brown of Penn State in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft after trading up to No. 87 overall. They sent Nos. 102, 164 (fifth round) and 222 (seventh round) with the Minnesota Vikings.

Brown (5-foot-11, 203 pounds) finished his college career with 4.5 sacks and four interceptions in 13 games. He is known as a big-hitter and passionate about the game. He is a native of Trenton, New Jersey.

The main roles in the team’s defensive backfield already appeared to be set at the opening of the draft with cornerbacks Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenior and safeties Tashaun Gipson and Talanoa Hufanga.

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At safety, the 49ers’ starters return for another season together. The team re-signed veteran Gipson to pair with All-Pro strong safety Hufanga.

Gipson, who turns 33 in August, is on a one-year deal and the 49ers are likely expecting Brown to take over as the starter in 2024.

Brown should be an immediate contributor on special teams while the door is open for him to carve a role as an extra defensive back and primary backup.

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