Why new 49ers safety Brown knew he ‘belonged' on roster


SANTA CLARA — The 49ers traded up to the No. 87 overall spot for Ji’Ayir Brown on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, and the safety couldn’t be more excited.

The Penn State defensive back spoke to Bay Area media Friday night and shared how his visit to team headquarters made him believe Santa Clara would be the best place to start his NFL career.

“The visit went great,” Brown said. “I talked to everybody around the facility and it really felt like home. It gave me a similar version to how Penn State felt, just a family-oriented environment. I had a great visit in San Francisco, and I knew from the time I left the visit that it was the best visit I had been on, and that’s where I belonged.”

General manager John Lynch believed the Nittany Lion was a perfect pairing for the club as well, noting the visit definitely left an impression on the entire 49ers staff.

“He’s a baller,” Lynch said. “I think he’s got the components of what I think makes up a Niner. We had a consensus, from coaches to scouts, it was all around the building. He really solidified that with this tape, but then he came here on a 30 visit and he’s just got this infectious personality.”

The 49ers have solid starters at safety in veteran Tashaun Gipson and All-Pro Talanoa Hufanga, both of whom Brown will work under and learn from. The young safety likely will start off as a core special teams player while also readying himself for when his name is called during a game.

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks was the one who stood on the table for Brown, and once the pick was made, he led the many cheers in the 49ers' draft room. The defensive back specialist even told Lynch, “That’s my dude right there.”

“I got the call from the DC,” Brown said. “It was so loud in there, I could barely hear them. I was trying to talk to them and all the family was screaming around me and I was trying to get away from them so I could hear. It was amazing. It was a great feeling that can only come once in your lifetime, so I’m definitely taking in this moment. I’m very appreciative.”

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Brown did not have the chance to meet Hufanga or Gipson during his visit, but he's quite aware of their abilities. The rookie looks forward from learning from one of the closest pairs of safeties in the league.

“I’m more excited than anybody to conversate with those guys, learn from those guys, piggyback off of each other and see how we can help this team win a Super Bowl,” Brown said.

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