John Lynch breaks down what he likes about Ji’Ayir Brown’s skillset

© Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Ji’Ayir Brown will get his first start in unfriendly environs on Thursday.

The rookie safety is coming off the high of his first career interception and three touchdown-saving plays in the fourth quarter of the 49ers’ 27-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The question now is how the rookie will fare on a short week in his first extended run. General manager John Lynch, who knows a thing or two about safety play, joined Murph & Markus on Tuesday morning and discussed why he’s confident in Brown.

Lynch made clear that he’s crushed by Talanoa Hufanga’s injury, and values him as a guy who provides the defense unique energy. But he said he feels grateful the team traded up to acquire Brown, so that they’re prepared for a situation like this.

He offered his assessment of Brown’s talent:

He’s a really good football player. Much like Huf, he’s got an ability to make plays. And that was tested right away. And I was really proud of the young man. He came in, Baker threw an incredible ball. But you know, what Ji’Ayir did, it was his guy and he tracked him down and he gave us a chance to keep playing. And then he settled in and I thought he made a number of plays in that game, was flying around, playing fast.

And he’s a very similar player to Huf in terms of, their timed speed may not be the best in the world, but man, they play fast. They see the field very well.

And then Ji’Ayir has tremendous ball skills, as we saw evidenced by that pick at the end. So he’s he’s been biding his time, but getting better each week. The coaches have done a great job. He’s been a big-time special teams contributor and really proud of the way he’s worked and stepped up when he was asked to.

It’s not ideal because we lose a great player, we’re excited about the opportunity now to see Ji’Ayir and see what he can do.

Lynch continued to highlight Brown’s talent as a “ball hawk,” pointing out that he had 10 interceptions at Penn State, where he was tied for the nationwide lead in interceptions, with six, in 2021.

He said he’s hopeful that the 49ers can see him and Hufanga on the same field in the future, but feels confident in the present.

“You’re talking about a team captain type of guy at Penn State,” Lynch said. “So he’s got a similar love for the game, a passion for the game, and it manifests itself with really physical, fun play out there on the field.”

Listen to the full interview above. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Catch Murph & Mac weekdays from 6 a.m. – 10 a.m. on KNBR 104.5 / 680 and streaming live on


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