For NFL rookies, newfound fame and attention from fans can be overwhelming. But for 49ers wide receiver Ronnie Bell and safety Ji’Ayir Brown, the support means everything as they navigate their first year as professionals.
On the latest episode of the "You've Got Mail" podcast with 49ers team reporter Lindsey Pallares, Bell and Brown shared what the recognition from fans means to them.
“I get it all the time,” Brown told Pallares and Bell. “Bro, people catch me at the mall, Walmart. You know when you’re walking and catch eye contact with somebody? I’ll be like, ‘I wonder what the person’s staring at?’ And I’ll walk around for a little bit and they’ll come up to me like, ‘Yo, you Ji’Ayir Brown?’ And I’ll be like, ‘Yeah.’ Then they’re like, ’Oh, man. Can I get a picture?’
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“That’s so much love to me, though, man. I always take pictures with them, and I always try to show the fans love because it means a lot, you know, to give back. And just to show them that we support them as much as they support us.”
Brown entered Sunday’s game having played just two defensive snaps this year and 43 on special teams, but he’s a secondary piece the 49ers are excited to develop. During his three years at Penn State, Brown recorded 153 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, 10 interceptions, and a pick-six.
Like Brown, Bell also lets fans know they’re valued when he catches looks.
“They should know they’re appreciated, man,” Bell told Pallares and Brown. “That’s the message I always definitely want to get across. They’re definitely appreciated.”
San Francisco 49ers
When Bell isn’t extending his gratitude to the 49ers’ Faithful, he’s running routes for quarterback Brock Purdy.
So far, Bell has two receptions for 24 yards, including his first-career NFL touchdown in the 49ers’ home opener on Sept. 21 at Levi’s Stadium.
The wide receiver, who almost picked a basketball career over football, should be a threat for the 49ers in the years to come. As a Michigan Wolverine for parts of five years, Bell caught 145 balls for 2,269 yards scoring 10 touchdowns.
Brown and Bell caught the eyes of general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan leading up to the 2023 NFL Draft, but the looks didn’t stop there. The rookies are thankful for the recognition from their new fanbase, just as the Faithful are grateful for them.
As the 49ers aim to beat Josh Dobbs and the Arizona Cardinals to improve to 4-0, the rookies will have another week to gain experience and crowd support.