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John Lynch on Former Penn State S Ji’Ayir Brown: ‘The guy’s a Stud’

Penn State Nittany Lions safety Ji'Ayir Brown (16) November 12, 2022 David Hague/NSN

For many people, the Super Bowl was the first time they saw Ji’ayir Brown do when Penn State fans saw him do plenty of over the past few seasons.

He made a big play.

Early in the second half of this year’s Super Bowl, Brown, now a 49ers safety, picked off a decent QB named Patrick Mahomes.

San Fran ended up losing the game. But individually, Brown’s rookie season turned out to be a successful one.

Like with most rookies, Brown didn’t start right away. He had to prove himself on special teams. He did just that, and by the end of the regular season, Brown had started five games. Brown ended with 35 tackles (22 solo), four passes defended and two interceptions. Brown’s general manager, John Lynch, knows a thing or two about safety play. In fact, he was so good at the position, he’s in the NFL Hall of Fame. Throughout the pre-draft process, Lynch and the organization noticed Brown’s played on the field– 10 interceptions over his last two seasons at Penn State. That was important. But what’s also important about that process and the NFL Combine in particular are the impression players make when talking with teams.

“You talk about interviews,” Lynch said at his Combine presser Tuesday, “we were talking about them earlier. He made a tremendous impression, not only on the tape, but his interview was one that grabbed us. I think when it’s unanimous and everyone has that feeling, Ji’ayir is just a special human being, a special young man, but then he went and showed that.”

Once the season started, Lynch noticed Brown didn’t develop a bad attitude when he wasn’t getting a ton of reps on defense.

“Ji’Ayir didn’t pout early on when he wasn’t playing,” Lynch said, “he went and excelled at special teams. We had two guys in Huff (Talanoa Hufanga) and Gipp (Tashaun Gipson) that were pretty good players, and what he did is sit back and never wasted a day lamenting the fact that he wasn’t starting. He picked their brain, he learned from them, such that when he got his opportunity, he could shine, and that’s exactly what he did.

For Lynch, the Super Bowl was only the beginning.

“We’re really encouraged about Ji’Ayir moving forward,” he said. “Had a pick in the Super Bowl, but it’s a lot more than just the picks. The guy’s a stud, and we’re fortunate to have him.”

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