49ers roster: 4 players who may lose their jobs to 2023 rookies

San Francisco 49ers defensive back Ji'Ayir Brown
San Francisco 49ers defensive back Ji'Ayir Brown / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages
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49ers rookie Ji'Ayir Brown could steal job from S Tashaun Gipson

Veteran safety Tashaun Gipson's surprising play last season after being an emergency free-agent signing did two different but related things for the 49ers.

First, the player Gipson was filling in for, Jimmie Ward, was dealing with an injury. But Gipson played so well at free safety, Ward was forced to assume nickel cornerback duties instead upon his return.

Second, Gipson was the cheaper re-sign option when both he and Ward hit NFL free agency last March. With Gipson back on a one-year deal, Ward was off to the Houston Texans instead on a more lucrative contract.

That said, Gipson turns 33 years old this offseason, which is exceptionally old for a defensive back. And he even mulled over the thought of retiring recently, too.

So, not surprisingly, one of the Niners' more aggressive moves in this year's draft was to trade up for Penn State's Ji'Ayir Brown.

If Gipson starts, Brown likely begins his pro career as a versatile defensive back waiting his turn.

But Brown could just as easily force his way above Gipson on the depth chart, too.

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