49ers training camp: Ji'Ayir Brown is the rookie fans should watch most

Ji'Ayir Brown is an exciting prospect fans are understandably intrigued by. While he probably won't start in 2023, his performance in training camp will go a long way in explaining why the 49ers traded up to draft him.
San Francisco 49ers Offseason Workout
San Francisco 49ers Offseason Workout / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

When the San Francisco 49ers entered the 2023 NFL Draft with 11 picks, it stood to reason they would package picks to move up and take a player they coveted.

Sure enough, this was precisely what occurred, as the Niners moved up to take safety Ja'Ayir Brown from Penn State.

Read More: Which 49ers rookie are you most excited to watch in 2023?

Early reports of Brown in rookie minicamp and organized team activities have been overwhelmingly positive, with the young safety making plays left and right to the point that wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk praised him extensively after recording multiple interceptions:

""He's got like three or four picks already through these first couple of days. And he just comes in, wants to work when the work comes in, doesn't say too much, just work. So I like him. I like him a lot.""

Brandon Aiyuk

Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson are the presumed starters at safety for San Francisco in 2023. Hufanga's position is pretty secure, given his All-Pro season in 2022 as a second-year starter. Gipson was signed right before the season began as an emergency option and played so well that he forced now-Houston Texan Jimmie Ward to the slot when he returned, and Gipson was rewarded with an extension to bring him back for 2023.

Why this, combined with the preseason emergence of Brown, has led some to debate if the 49ers would implement three-safety sets with all of them on the field, a scheme they've used on occasion, it's more likely Brown will be a backup for 2023 before taking Gipson's starting role in 2024 and beyond.

That being said, training camp could provide a chance for Brown to upset the schedule and force himself on the field.

Gipson has shown himself to be a perfectly fine option at safety, but the team has more invested in the safety they traded up for than the one with only one year on his contract.

If Brown continues his good form, the team may have no choice but to start him as a rookie.

It shouldn't surprise if Brown ends up being the next standout pick for San Francisco and starts at some point in 2023 if not Week 1.

This definitely makes Brown the rookie to watch when training camp begins.

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