San Francisco 49ers

49ers’ minutia minute: Trent Brown not looking like a seventh-round pick

Florida's Trenton Brown (74) blocks Eastern Kentucky linebacker Jeffrey Canady (53) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014.
Florida's Trenton Brown (74) blocks Eastern Kentucky linebacker Jeffrey Canady (53) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. AP

SANTA CLARA -- If you were unfamiliar with the 49ers' draft a month ago, you might have a hard time guessing which player was drafted at which spot based on recent practices. Offensive lineman Trent Brown, for example, was a seventh rounder and the ninth of 10 selections, but he's the only one who's been consistently lining up with a first-team unit.

That's largely because the team's normal right tackle, Anthony Davis, isn't attending the voluntary practices and because veteran Erik Pears, who has the ability to play tackle, has been filling in at right guard for another absentee, Alex Boone. Nonetheless, Brown has not looked like a late seventh-round pick; rather he looks the part due to his 6-8 height and his incredibly long, 36-inch arms.

He also fared well in one-on-one pass-rush drills. The exercise, of course, is done without pads and contact is at a minimum. But it's a good gauge for a lineman's athleticism, and it's clear that the more weight Brown loses, the quicker his feet become. The former Florida lineman is down into the 350-pound range after being as heavy as 387. Brown only was beaten once by a pass rusher. That pass rusher happened to be Aldon Smith, who got the rookie with an inside move. (Smith's 35 3/8-inch arms are now the second-longest on the team).

Brown was the 'starting' right tackle on Friday while Joe Staley was at his familiar left tackle spot. The others playing tackle are rookie Patrick Miller and Justin Renfrow. Dillion Farrell, who can play multiple spots, has been playing center behind Marcus Martin. Martin and Daniel Kilgore are likely to compete for the starting center spot when Kilgore (ankle/leg) returns to the practice field in training camp.


At outside linebacker, Ahmad Brooks was present but not participating on Friday. That allowed Corey Lemonier to run with the first-team unit opposite Aldon Smith. Rookies Eli Harold and Marcus Rush also are lining up at OLB. But with Aaron Lynch (hamstring) and Chase Thomas (ACL) not taking part, the team is a bit thin at the position. Nick Bellore also has been playing on the outside even though he's built more like an inside linebacker.


Guard Joe Looney, whose most notable NFL play to date may be the one on which he injured Vikings defensive lineman Kevin Williams in the 2013 preseason, angered another defensive lineman Friday. He and Tank Carradine were involved in a brief tussle that resulted in several defensive players having to restrain Carradine, who was steamed about something that occurred on the play.


The 49ers were missing several tight ends on Friday. Vernon Davis was given a day off while Derek Carrier is coming back from a minor foot sprain. I did not see Xavier Grimble. Still, the 49ers -- who drafted two tight ends -- had five healthy players at the position. And tight ends were used heavily in practice. Fourth-round pick Blake Bell had a nice catch over the middle, while the snag of the day was turned in by Garrett Celek -- on his 27th birthday, no less. Celek reached up for a one-handed, on-the-run grab of a pass from rookie Dylan Thompson while running up the seam.

Meanwhile, Vance McDonald seems to show no ill effects from the back surgery he had six months ago. Both he and Celek -- who also had back surgery in 2014 -- have been at full speed throughout the recent OTA practices.


At cornerback, neither Tramaine Brock (hamstring) nor Shareece Wright (undisclosed) took part in 11-on-11 or team drills. If the 49ers had a game on Sunday, they'd probably play. But on Friday, at least, Chris Cook and Marcus Cromartie were with the first-team defense. This is a theme of OTAs in general: Older, veteran players either sit out or are told to sit out, thereby allowing more inexperienced players to get practice repetitions. That's what is happening at cornerback where Kenneth Acker, Dontae Johnson, Leon McFadden, Keith Reaser, etc. have been receiving plenty of work.


Here's what happened at receiver earlier this month: The 49ers were thought to have a need at the position but they drafted only one wideout. Moreover, the wideout they selected, DeAndre Smelter, will miss at least half the season with an ACL. That meant that every agent worth his salt was eager to land his undrafted receiver with the 49ers.

As a result, the 49ers have a very good-looking group of undrafted rookies. Utah's Dres Anderson is fluid and well-rounded, Henderson State's Darius Davis is a ball of muscle, Alabama's DiAndrew White is fast while Duke's Isaac Blakeney has better size than any receiver on the squad. Blakeney is 6-6 and resembles ex-49er Kassim Osgood in his physique.


White was one of three players who was fielding punts from rookie Bradley Pinion, who was absolutely booming some toward the end of practice. (Caveat: He had the wind at his back). The other two were Reggie Bush and Jarryd Hayne, who continues to look very natural at the position. Last year's punt returner, Bruce Ellington, is recovering from the ubiquitous spring hamstring strain and has not been taking part in OTAs.


Bush said recently that, at age 30, he’s just as fast as when he entered the NFL in 2006. It’s hard to argue with him after he scampered through a hole, cut left and then darted up field Friday. With Carlos Hyde still nursing a strained leg muscle, Bush and Hayne got the bulk of the carries for the 49ers. Rookie Mike Davis was attending the annual Rookie Premiere event in Los Angeles.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at