49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

February 4, 2010
Niners hire Ray Brown, sign a tight end

New 49ers assistant offensive line coach Ray Brown's official bio has him coaching for 2 ½ seasons - two as the Bills assistant offensive line coach and another half season as a special assistant for the Redskins. The truth is that Brown has been coaching a lot longer than that. Brown is one of the few offensive linemen to play into his 40s and actually turned 43 while playing for the Redskins in 2005. He started 14 games that season. He said he often acted like a coach during the last half of his 20-year career.

"I think once you become, probably, a seven- to10-year guy, you pretty much know a lot about what teams are doing offensively," he said. "For me, it's all about sharing what people shared with me because I know that allowed me the opportunity to stay as long as I did. I just only try to reciprocate that, share things and pass off things that I've heard and things that I've learned."

Brown, 47, says he eventually wants to become an offensive line coach in the league and he appears to have the disposition, the know-how and the work ethic to be a good one. He played in San Francisco when his immediate boss, Mike Solari, was the tight ends coach. And he said he'll use a lot of the lessons given to him by the late Bobb McKittrick, who coached with the 49ers for 21 seasons. "Being smart, being tough, being physical," he said of McKittrick's legacy. "Knowing your assignments. It's never going to change. It's going to be about leverage and being physical. It's about being a good man." Brown won the team's Bobb McKittrick Award in 1997, 1999 and 2001.

Brown is only four years younger than head coach Mike Singletary. In fact, his first NFL game - Brown was an eighth-round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1986 - was against Singletary's Bears. "It became a brawl," Brown recalled. He joked he didn't get involved for fear of risking his eighth-round bonus.

Brown and Solari will have their work cut out for them. The 49ers offensive line was widely considered their biggest weakness last season and they are expected to add at least one lineman this offseason. Brown said he was still in the "observation phase" of evaluating his new pupils. "Still trying to figure out what they can and can't do," he said.

Ray Brown's playing career
2004-05: Washington Redskins
2002-03: Detroit Lions
1996-2001: San Francisco 49ers
1989-95: Washington Redskins
1986-88: St. Louis Cardinals

Along with CB Keith Smith, the 49ers signed tight end Tony Curtis to a future contract. The 49ers showed interest in Curtis last offseason. At 6-5, 251, he has some blocking ability and will be given a shot at winning the role of third tight end - one that wasn't filled in 2009 - this offseason. Practice squadder J.J. Finley also will get a chance at winning the position. The team also could look for a tight end in the draft. Curtis, who is from Seaside, Calif., spent 2005-2008 with the Cowboys. He spent time on the Chiefs, Eagles and Ravens rosters last year.

-- Matt Barrows

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Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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