The San Francisco 49ers have plenty of financial decisions to make this off-season. One of them should be to lock up cornerback Tarell Brown, who is currently only signed through 2013.
Brown, now entering his seventh NFL season, became a starter for San Francisco in 2011 and has consistently been rock solid in coverage ever since. He started off somewhat slow in 2012 but finished strong down the stretch and was arguably the best defensive back on the roster in the playoffs. In fact he allowed just one touchdown pass all year.
Opposing signal-callers posted a QB rating of just 77.7 when throwing his way. When you consider that the 49ers faced the likes of Aaron Rodgers (twice), Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan (the only one who threw a TD pass to a WR Brown was covering), Eli Manning and many more, that number sounds pretty amazing.
Brown only hauled in two interceptions in the regular season (another in the playoffs), but how many times do you remember him getting exploited in coverage? Very few.
San Francisco doled out a sizable contract to a cornerback last off-season—Carlos Rogers inked a deal for four years and $29 million prior to last season—but most would agree that Brown outplayed every CB the Niners had in 2012. Chris Culliver, the team’s No. 3 CB, had a solid regular season and made some spectacular plays, but fell short of expectations during the playoffs.
Considering that Brown is still locked up (and making $3.9 million) for 2013, there is no true sense of urgency to get something done. General manager Trent Baalke and Co. could monitor him for another season to get a better feel for his value if they so choose. That said, I think it’s pretty evident that the former fifth-round pick in 2007 has proven his worth as a starter in this league.
As each game passes, Brown seems to thrive more and more in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio‘s defense. A player that truly understands the ins and outs of the coverage schemes while proving both physical and athletic enough to keep up with some of the NFL’s top wideouts is an invaluable asset to have.
So, whether it’s during this off-season, the upcoming regular season or even the 2014 off-season, San Francisco needs to get a new deal whipped up for Brown so he can sign on the dotted line and continue to don the Red and Gold for years to come.