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Tarell Brown Steps up with Rogers on the Mend

Perrish Cox deservedly earned praise for his role as San Francisco's No. 3 cornerback in last week's playoff win over the Green Bay Packers.

But what about the team's No. 2 cornerback, Tarell Brown?

Brown quietly stepped back into the starting lineup for injured starter Carlos Rogers and was part of the defensive unit that held Aaron Rodgers to 177 passing yards.

It's been a turbulent season for Brown, who suffered a rib injury in a Week 11 loss to the New Orleans Saints and was replaced in the starting lineup by emerging fourth-year pro Tramaine Brock.

Brown didn't sulk about his demotion when he returned to the field four weeks later against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team-first cornerback worked his way back into action as San Francisco's No. 3 cornerback in nickel situations. Brown maintained his perimeter coverage responsibilities against multi-receiver formations.

When Rogers was injured in Week 17 and ruled inactive for the win over the Packers, Brown returned to the starting lineup.

He also thrived.

Brown recorded three tackles and a pass breakup over Green Bay. The pass deflection was perhaps one of most pivotal defensive plays of the game. Rodgers launched a 40-yard deep ball to Jordy Nelson, but Brown leaped up and swatted the ball down.

"It's what I expect of myself," Brown said of the play and his performance. "It felt good."

Brown's play-making effort and professionalism has not been forgotten by his teammates.

"We have tremendous respect for Tarell," strong safety Donte Whitner said on Thursday. "He's been through so much this year… He's been one of our best corners out there."

Whitner and the rest of the defensive unit admire the way Brown has dealt with his injury and new role on the team.

"You never hear him say anything about that," Whitner added. "He's a guy who's here. He's one of the first guys in every morning and one of the last guys to leave. Always working, so I hope good things happen for him."

Brown could very well be in line for another start this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Divisional Playoff round.

Rogers has not practiced this week and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was adamant that the veteran cornerback would have to practice this week in order to play against the Panthers.

"He's still hurt a little bit, but he's much better than last week," Fangio said of Rogers, who had a streak of 53 consecutive starts with the 49ers snapped last week.

Rogers said he's been running since Monday, sprinting in 10 and 20-yard increments. Rogers, however, noted that the hamstring injury is a bigger deal to a cornerback than to any other position on the field.

"I'm steadily progressing," Rogers said. "We'll see… This is something I haven't experienced, so I'm going by feel."

If Rogers misses a second straight game, Fangio is confident with the starting duo of Brock and Brown as San Francisco's top cornerbacks against Carolina.

"They played well," the 49ers coordinator said. "Any time you go against that passing attack with that quarterback and the footing the way it was which is certainly to the offense's advantage, I thought they played extremely well."

Brown remains confident in his performance and has never changed his preparation routine. He's just looking to continue contributing in any way possible.

"I think the biggest thing for us is to stay consistent and keep it going," Brown said. "Now, it's win or go home and we don't want to go home. That's what we're here to do. You want to make it to the postseason – that was one of the team goals. We did that, let's keep it rolling."



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