5 backups who have stepped up a ton for the 49ers in 2023

The 49ers control their destiny in the NFC, holding the No. 1 seed with four games left. Part of this has been due to some backup players stepping up when needed.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v San Francisco 49ers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages
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Ji'Ayir Brown
San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Backup who stepped up No. 5: Ji'Ayir Brown, Safety

Man, some rookies just seem to hit the ground running no matter what don't they?

Ji'Ayir Brown, the talented young third-round rookie. is not like the others on this list. He isn't an underachiever or a veteran presence, but a kid who the team had an eye on as the partner in crime for All-Pro Talanoa Hufanga for 2024 and beyond.

With Hufanga out for the year after tearing his ACL against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brown has not only held his own but actually been one of the top safeties in the NFL.

"PFF grades hardly tell the full story, but, in the last three weeks, Brown is PFF’s sixth-highest graded safety. He’s in the top-8 in tackling and run stops, while allowing a passer rating of just 42.4, which is also top-8."

Kyle Posey, Niners Nation

He's proven himself to be a ballhawk too, with two interceptions in limited action. He could have had a third (and his second in the game), against the Seattle Seahawks if not for the fact it might have, sorta, kinda, got stolen from him.

Look carefully where Brown (No. 27), is on this play.

I mean, you have to defer to the team captain on this one. Sorry rookie, maybe next time.

Nevertheless, this is an extremely promising start to his young career. The team has seen no drop in play in their secondary, and part of this is thanks to Brown. If this continues, the Brown-Hufanga tandem promises to light up the NFL in 2024 and beyond.

A backup this year, but Brown is one of the stars that's shining bright on this loaded 49ers team that's firm favorites to add a sixth Super Bowl to their trophy cabinet.

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