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Tarell Brown's Injury Puts 49ers CB Depth to Use

Posted Nov 20, 2013

If Brown (ribs) is unable to play in Week 12, San Francisco will rely heavily on Tramaine Brock and Eric Wright in the defensive backfield.

If cornerback Tarell Brown, who left Sunday’s game in New Orleans with a rib contusion, is unable to play on Monday in Washington, his absence will create a domino effect in the San Francisco defensive backfield.

This isn’t to say the 49ers wouldn’t have the depth to withstand his absence.

As was the case in the second half of the Week 12 loss to the Saints, Tramaine Brock would go from playing his right-side corner spot only on third downs to first and second as well. In nickel situations, Rogers would shift inside to man the slot while veteran newcomer Eric Wright would line up on the left side.

“Brock has to step up. ‘E-Wright’ has to step up,” Rogers, the position group’s leader and unofficial spokesman, said on Wednesday afternoon. “We got enough weapons and guys to step in and play.”

By all indications, they feel ready for more significant playing time, too.

“I wouldn’t say it’s more pressure but there are higher expectations at a starting position in this league,” Brock said. “There’s a difference between nickel corner on third down and starting, so I have to study more, pay attention to the coaches and to the film to go out there and replace what 'T-Brown' did as a starter.”

Brock still holds the team’s lead with four interceptions despite having played far fewer snaps than his fellow corners. He said he’s also benefited from the presence of Wright, a seven-year pro.

“He adds experience and knowledge to the game,” Brock said. “It’s a plus.”

Wright, for his part, is still learning on the job with his new team; he was forced to learn on the fly when Brown went down. Wright had prepared to play inside as part of the unit’s “dime” or four-cornerback package during the week on the practice field. He didn’t take a single snap at Brown’s left, outside corner spot before Sunday.

“I anticipated a little different role, but that’s the way the game goes,” Wright said. “I had to fill in where I was needed, and I tried to do the best I could out there.” 

With or without Brown, Rogers, Brock and Wright must now prepare for the challenges of facing a struggling albeit dangerous Robert Griffin III-led Washington offense. Only Wright, as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012, has played against Griffin before. He made three tackles from his right-side corner spot in a game in which Griffin threw for 323 yards and ran for 36 more and a score.

“RGIII is a great player, an athletic quarterback,” Wright said. “People are trying to figure him out, but with a player like him, it’s kind of hard. He’s the type of the player that can make great plays in the passing game and the running game.”

As for the possibility that Brown will be able to help the 49ers hold down the electric quarterback, Jim Harbaugh was mum on Monday. Rogers, however, said that while he wasn’t exactly sure of his teammate’s condition, “I think he’s doing better.

“He is always doing (abdominal workouts), so when he got hurt in this part of his body, his stomach, we were joking with him about, ‘You know you’re not doing enough on your abs…’ Hopefully he’ll be back soon.”


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