Peters shares why 49ers saw shades of Hufanga in Brown

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The 49ers continued to invest in their vaunting defense by selecting safety Ji’Ayir Brown at No. 87 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. 

49ers assistant general manager Adam Peters sees similarities between fellow safety Talanoa Hufanga and Brown. 

In a recent interview with The Athletic's Matt Barrows, Peters noted that Brown and Hufanga are hard-hitting safeties who produced a lot of turnovers in college. Hufanga registered six turnovers in 2020 at USC, while Brown also forced six turnovers in 2022 at Penn State.

“They call him ‘The Voice’ because he was the voice of the defense, the leader of the defense,” Peters told Barrows. “And it’s not just what he says, it’s how he plays. Like one of my notes was, ‘He plays every play like it’s his last. He plays really, really hard.' "

The comparison might explain why San Francisco traded picks No. 102, No. 164 and No. 222 in this year’s draft to the Minnesota Vikings to move up to No. 87 and select Brown.

Additionally, Brown had many people within the organization vouching for his selection, from defensive coordinator Steve Wilks to defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks to Peters himself, referring to the safety as “my guy.”

Nonetheless, 49ers scout Eric Thatcher was the decider in the debate. Thatcher has a connection to Brown, considering he recruited him to go to Penn State in 2018. 

“[Thatcher has] known Ji’Ayir for years,” Peters told Barrows. “He vouched for him, stood on the table for him, knew him better than everybody in probably all of the NFL because of how far back he goes with him.”

RELATED: Ji'Ayir Brown, 49ers draft pick, 'special' trait named by Penn State coach

If the 49ers’ front office sees how special Brown can be at the NFL level, other rivals certainly shared similar opinions that San Francisco needed to trade up to secure the 23-year-old. 

Now with Brown and Hufanga -- who registered four interceptions during the 2022 NFL season -- teaming up in the secondary, expect the 49ers to produce turnovers for the foreseeable future. 

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