In the 49ers' Week 4 win over the Arizona Cardinals, 49ers rookie Ji’Ayir Brown was on the field for his most defensive snaps yet in a game (11), but what he has been able to do on special teams has made the coaching staff take notice.
With the play of Tashaun Gipson and Talanoa Hufanga being at a high level through four games, Brown has been learning, while also making a name for himself on special teams. On Sunday, while only being on the field for 11 defensive plays, the Penn State product made two tackles — one solo, one assist.
On Monday, coach Kyle Shanahan gave an early assessment of the rookie.
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“It feels like we got the right guy,” Shanahan said. “Just the way he carries himself each day on the practice field, he’s really owned his role. When he is taking the backup reps at safety, he’s getting better in all of it.”
Brown has been active all four games of the regular season, getting most of his experience on special teams. In the team's Week 4 win, the rookie safety made a key tackle on kickoff coverage pinning the Cardinals on their own 16-yard line.
“The special team stuff, he gets better each week and he has become a real force out there,” Shanahan said. “I know how much confidence [Special Teams Coordinator Brian] Schneider has in him on our special teams.”
Brown has been on the field for a total of 13 defensive snaps and 57 on special teams, while he learns from both Gipson and Hufanga, both of whom have been excellent resources for the young safety.
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“When he does get his opportunity, he’s going to be ready,” Shanahan said. “He does everything the right way and he’s a very good football player and a guy I’m real glad that we have here.”
Until he gets his shot, Brown will be absorbing all he can while making his mark on punt and kickoff coverage, which he seems to be getting a knack for.