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Trent Brown: Joe Staley's Mentorship Means a lot

One of them has started in all 130 NFL games that he's appeared in. The other has two starts in five career appearances.

One was the 28th overall selection in his respective NFL Draft. The other was the 244th overall pick nine years later.

So what do these two have in common?

Joe Staley and Trent Brown are the book-end tackles for this year's San Francisco 49ers offensive line.

Despite their dissimilar roads to the Bay Area, each player holds the other in high regard. Staley, the 10-year veteran, has looked out for Brown, the impressive second-year pro.

"I don't think he really understands how much I look up to him," Brown said on Tuesday, two days before San Francisco's preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers.

Take a look at the top as images when the 49ers took the practice field to prepare for the Chargers.

It's not known how much, or if at all, starters like Staley and Brown will play in the final exhibition game of 2016. Regardless, Brown has appreciated the added wisdom that a five-time Pro Bowl left tackle like Staley has been willing to share as the regular season approaches.

Further, Staley hasn't been shy about praising Brown's impressive offseason and ascending skill set on the right side of the line.

"I don't throw this around lightly, he can be as good as anyone in the NFL that's ever been," Staley told CSN Bay Area last week. "You see him and you think Jonathan Ogden, the plays that he would make when he was playing. He's got a ways to go before he's there, but he has all the talent to be Jonathan Ogden-esque."

Brown's face lit up when he was asked about the comparison.

"Coming from Joe, it means a lot," Brown said.

Brown opened the offseason program with the second-team offensive line. The 6-foot-8, 355-pound lineman, however, worked his way into the starting lineup by the time training camp rolled around. Offseason training sessions that included pushing around a 5,400-pound SUV helped Brown get into the best shape of his life.

"I felt like I should be in that spot," Brown said. "I knew that it was all on me. It was mine to lose. After OTAs, I knew what I had to do."

The return of Anthony Davis added competition at right tackle, but Brown didn't flinch. He excelled against Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller in two joint practices and a preseason game against the Denver Broncos. That week, Davis suggested to coaches that he move to right guard to give San Francisco its best five-man combination.

Brown has rarely, if ever, been defeated in pass protection this preseason. Staley's tips, coupled with detailed instruction from offensive line coaches Pat Flaherty and Eric Wolford, have Brown utilizing his long arms to his advantage.

"I'm a lot more comfortable and confident," the young lineman said.

Teammates like Blaine Gabbert can see the difference.

"He's been doing a tremendous job," the quarterback said on Aug. 24 "The way he's approached the summer program, coming into training camp, the first two preseason games has been tremendous. He's been playing his tail off and he's such a young player, he's only going to continue to get better."

Chip Kelly's take on Brown's development was also striking.

The 49ers coach pointed to Brown realizing his true physical and athletic talents.

"From a coach's standpoint, it's awesome to see," Kelly added. "It's watching him kind of mature and grow and get better and better. It's pretty cool to see from that standpoint, but a lot of it, the credit goes to Trent because of what he's invested in himself."

And then there's Staley, the one who has motivated Brown throughout the offseason with pep talks and words of encouragement.

Brown listens. And he watches.

Whenever there's time to review tape, Brown said he studies the way Staley displays his athleticism in the run game and how he uses his hands to his advantage.

"He's so quick and fast," Brown said of the veteran. "I see how fast he closes the gap between him and a defender. I try to emulate that, but Joe runs a 4.7 (40-yard dash). We're two different body types, but I try to emulate him as best as I can."

We workin, we craftin — Trent Brown (@_tbrown77) August 25, 2016

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