Ji’Ayir Brown trying to live up to ‘standard’ of starters in first NFL training camp

Aug 5, 2023, 2:30 PM | Updated: Aug 7, 2023, 9:05 am

Ji'Ayir Brown #27 of the San Francisco 49ers works out during training camp at SAP Performance Faci...

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 04: Ji'Ayir Brown #27 of the San Francisco 49ers works out during training camp at SAP Performance Facility on August 04, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

San Francisco 49ers rookie safety Ji’Ayir Brown has come into his first NFL training camp with a steep hill to climb.

While the former Penn State captain is the team’s highest pick in the 2023 draft, he is currently ranked third on the depth chart behind starters Tashaun Gipson Sr. and Talanoa Hufanga. And after last season’s success for the duo, the rook may have to wait a year or two before he starts games for San Francisco.

But that’s okay though, soaking up as much knowledge as he can from two guys that didn’t run a great 40-time (like him) coming out of college.

“Guys like Gip & Huf, they’re smart. When you’re smart and think fast, the 40-time doesn’t really matter. It’s about how fast you can process information and make a decision,” Ji’Ayir Brown told the media.

The 23-year-old safety has also embraced the team’s aggression this offseason, liking it to his own aggressive playing style on the field. While the unit may not be the fastest in the league, that doesn’t matter. What matters is the team’s ruthless nature to swarm the football at all costs, hoping to live up to the standards of the 49ers in short order.

“That’s just my game,” Brown stated. “I think that’s everybody on the team. You know, this is an aggressive defense, I think the most aggressive defense in the league. So I have to live up to that standard with those guys. You know, my football style is just like there’s, so it will definitely be a game of physicality.”

Brown has also noticed the defense’s mentality from the first day of OTAs in May, calling them hunters on the football field. That’s partially due to defensive coordinator Steve Wilks’ blitz-heavy tactics, but also because of the players’ willingness to attack the ball carrier on every down.

“Just mentality. These guys, they hunt, you know. Guys like [MLB] Fred [Warner] lead the pack, [LB Dre Greenlaw], you know, these guys, they set the example. And if you ain’t out there hunting, you can’t be with them. So I just joined in on that with those guys,” Brown explained.

The rookie has also learned from going against two of the best wide receivers in the NFL, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel.

While only working with them for the past few months, Brown has been increasingly impressed by both men on the practice field. But the one he’s most impressed with is the former, watching the Arizona State alum ball out in training camp.

“I like Aiyuk, man. Also Deebo. Those guys are special,” Brown said. “The way Aiyuk gets in and out of breaks, reads defenses and makes plays on the ball…One of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL. Deebo as well, especially his run after the catch.”

Brown also has a few tricks up his sleeve, a physical member of the secondary that likes to hit people. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to do that much in training camp with his own team. Lucky for him, however, Brown gets his chance to be physical when the 49ers travel to Las Vegas next week for joint practices with the Raiders.

Called a “dawg” by cornerback Charvarius Ward this week, Ji’Ayir Brown is itching to tackle some people for the first time since last year.

“I haven’t tackled nobody since December of last year. So, definitely looking forward to getting back to it. Show off my tackling abilities to the [49ers]. And let them see what I’m all about,” Brown said.

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