Ji'Ayir Brown is making steady progress in 49ers training camp, but that doesn't mean his teammates will call him "Tig" just yet.
The rookie safety told reporters after practice Saturday that the team's veterans are trying not to call him by his longtime nickname, and he has accepted their challenge to earn it.
"Coach said it's something I've got to earn, a nickname I've got to earn," Brown said. "So they've been trying their best not to call me Tig, but they've been falling for it ever since. It's hard not to call me Tig once you learn it."
The nickname stems from Brown's childhood, inspired by the character Tigger from "Winnie the Pooh," he told reporters back in his Penn State playing days (h/t Happy Valley Insider). He earned the moniker Tigger, at first, thanks to how much he jumped around as an infant, he said, but shortened it to Tig when he was older.
He lived up to Tig in college with his bouncy play at safety, and the nickname followed him all the way to the 2023 NFL Draft, where San Francisco selected him in the third round. Now, he's impressing the 49ers in camp, with veteran cornerback Charvarius Ward calling him a "dog" thanks to his aggressive play.
Still, the 23-year-old has plenty of room to grow as the 2023 NFL season approaches. Defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks believes Brown can take plenty away from veteran safety Tashaun Gipson, as the All-Pro knows what it takes to be the best in the game. Gipson on Friday told KNBR that Brown does indeed need to earn his nickname -- but not for the reason fans might think.
San Francisco 49ers
"He acts like a six-year vet, man," Gipson told the "Papa & Lund" show. "He's so cool, calm and poised. He don't act like a rookie; he don't do his rookie duties, either. I think that he's taking this to heart now. He truly feels that he's not a rookie. He don't bring snacks. He don't bring the snacks, man. I've never seen something like that. ...
"We can't call him Tig. He's Ji'Ayir. He's Ji'Ayir until he at least brings the snacks. He's got to earn the name Tig, I'm telling y'all. He's Ji'Ayir now."
Gipson went on to compliment Brown's explosive play, noting the rookie constantly asks him for advice and that Brown reminds the 11-year vet of himself when he was younger. Based on the praise from his older teammates, it's only a matter of time before Brown is known solely as Tig.
But whether that's thanks to his playing abilities or his snack generosity remains to be seen.
"It's just something that, the guys want to give me a challenge, and I accept the challenge as always," Brown said. "So, if they want that to happen, I'm going to make it happen."