JiAyir Brown

49ers rookie Ji'Ayir Brown reflects on ‘incredible' first NFL start

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SEATTLE — For Ji’Ayir Brown, the 49ers’ 31-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday at Lumen Field was the perfect ending to the rookie safety's first NFL start. 

San Francisco's defense held Geno Smith and the Seattle offense to six points. Brown was grateful not only for the experience, but for what he learned on the field with his teammates.

“Amazing, man,” Brown said after the game. “The communication between the guys on the field, the energy we brought, the passion we played with. It’s incredible. We didn’t let them in the end zone either, so for that to be my first start, and that kind of accomplishment, that means a lot."

The 49ers touted Brown as talented and mature after drafting him in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and it has shown on the field. The Penn State product previously played predominantly on special teams with only 30 total defensive snaps prior to Week 11.

Brown didn't hesitate when he had to step in for All-Pro safety Talanoa Hufanga, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear midway through the 49ers' win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, registering four tackles -- two solo -- along with three pass breakups and an interception.

After his first start, Brown shared how playing alongside veteran safety Tashaun Gipson has helped him after being thrust into an important role as a rookie.

“Just being there, giving me pointers, being there as a leader in the room, and communicating on the field,” Brown said. “I think me and him had a great connection out there today. I can’t wait to get back to it next week.” 

Another aspect of the 49ers' defense that helped Brown adjust during his first start was the speed of the pass rush. Nick Bosa, Chase Young and their defensive line counterparts got into the backfield with regularity, sacking Smith six times for a loss of 48 total yards.

The faster the front gets to the quarterback, the less time the defensive backs have to cover.

“Makes it a lot easier,” Brown said. “We got an amazing defense, front seven especially. Those guys get after the quarterback. They don’t have much time back there to play around. Makes my job a lot easier.”

Brown shared he could feel the heightened speed of the line when both Bosa and Young were on the field together. Watching them work seemed to leave the safety slightly star struck.

“It’s crazy,” Brown said. “I watched both of those guys coming up at Ohio State. To be out there with both of those guys, seeing them pass rush and the passion they play with, it’s incredible.” 

Brown finished the night with four tackles -- three solo. The rookie’s goals for the remainder of the season are simple.

“Keep getting better,” Brown said. “I feel like I didn’t have my best game today. Just keep taking it day by day, getting better. See where that takes me.”

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