As he began practicing at left tackle last week, Trent Brown sought an expert’s opinion on whether he was doing it right. He got it from someone who has started 134 games at the position: Joe Staley.
“I just asked him to watch me during practice and 1-on-1 (pass blocking) and stuff to make sure my sets were OK and to look at my footwork,” Brown said this week while preparing for the 49ers’ season finale Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
The second-year 49ers offensive lineman hadn’t lined up at the position since last year when he was the emergency backup at both right and left tackle. But after a slew of injuries across San Francisco’s offensive line – including a hamstring strain for Staley – Brown started at left tackle for the first time in his career last Saturday against the Rams. He had started the first 14 games this season at right tackle.
The verdict: A little shaky at first – “My body felt kind of awkward,” Brown said – but steady improvement as the game went on.
“Those were some big shoes to fill,” Brown said. “I was just telling Joe that. He said I did a pretty good job. So that was pretty high praise coming from him.”
Amid a 49ers season of ugly statistics and deflating storylines, Brown, 23, is a silver lining of progress.
After starting two games as a rookie last year, he is set to start all 16 this year. Brown, along with fellow offensive lineman Zane Beadles, linebacker Ahmad Brooks, cornerback Tramaine Brock and safety Antoine Bethea, are the only 49ers to have started every game this season.
Staley, 32, has said he plans to play for “a while longer,” but the team now knows it has a young player in Brown who can fill in at left tackle in a pinch and who perhaps is the heir to the position.
Brown’s weight soared as high as 387 pounds while at the University of Florida, one of the reasons he lasted until the end of the seventh round in the 2015 draft. Since then, however, he kept his weight around 355. Coach Chip Kelly said consistency is the key to his long-term success.
“He’s proven he can play at a very high level,” Kelly said. “Now, it’s the consistency thing that all young players have to work on, and that’s not a Trent thing, it’s every young player. I think it’s what separates the good from the great.”
Et cetera – Staley practiced Thursday, but two other linemen, center Marcus Martin and guard Andrew Tiller, did not. Both are dealing with ankle injuries. They had been limited participants in Wednesday’s practice.
▪ Jed York said Thursday that he will speak to reporters after the season. The team’s CEO last spoke before the 49ers’ Week 1 win over the Rams.
▪ Kelly said there have been no conversations about coaching the Senior Bowl. Typically, the coaching staffs with the two worst records are given the first chance to coach the annual college all-star game, which is held in Mobile, Ala., in January.