The San Francisco 49ers hinted at a move for a CB on September 18, but now the team is bringing in a new option in former Dallas Cowboys CB Anthony Brown. Brown has been with the Pittsburgh Steelers to start the 2023 season, but he’s going to try and prove his worth with the 49ers.
The roster move was first reported by ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter on September 19. Brown was unable to claim a 53-man spot in Pittsburgh, but he will start with one in San Francisco.
“Former Cowboys’ CB Anthony Brown, who tore his Achilles while with Dallas last season and was on Pittsburgh’s practice squad until this week, signed today with the 49ers’ 53-man roster, per source,” Schefter posted on X (formerly known as Twitter.)
The 49ers moving for a cornerback comes as no surprise, but Brown being the guy they’re adding is somewhat unexpected. San Francisco invited former New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos corner Bradley Roby for a visit on Monday, so the expectation was that he would be the new addition.
Considering that Samuel Womack is on the injured reserve and practice squad CB Qwuantrezz Knight was poached by the Arizona Cardinals, a new CB was critical. Brown has the experience and ability to contribute for the 49ers.
Brown’s Cowboys Run Ends on Sour Note
During his seven seasons with Dallas, Brown was never a marquee player but he was a consistent cog across multiple systems. Different defensive coordinators would come in and not just keep Brown, but give him a prominent role year after year.
The 29-year-old corner first joined the Cowboys as a sixth-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft. According to Pro Football Reference, Dallas quickly gave him his first NFL starts that year, in which he registered eight passes defended, a forced fumble and an interception.
From that point on, Brown was a consistent presence in the Cowboys defense. Over seven seasons, Brown has only had two years where he didn’t record a pick (2019 and 2022) and only one where he didn’t record 5 or more passes defended (2020).
His injury issues are a bit of a concern for the 49ers, as the former Purdue standout has missed 19 games over the past five seasons and tore his Achilles towards the end of the 2022 season. But considering he’s also just over a year removed from a three-interception season, the reward is worth the risk.
49ers Lose CB to Cardinals Before Taking Brown from Steelers
The function of the practice squad creates many interesting situations over the course of the NFL season, as teams can add and lose valuable players that don’t fit on the 53-man roster. Case in point: San Francisco signs Brown off the Steelers practice squad a day after Knight was picked up by the Cardinals.
Knight is a talented second-year player, but an unproven option and would be a tough fit as a replacement for Womack as a rotational CB. Brown having several years of NFL playing time makes him a much better option.
However, San Francisco will likely be seeing Knight again soon. The UCLA alum and the Cardinals visit the 49ers and Levi’s Stadium on October 1 for a NFC West clash.
Evan Reier is a sports reporter covering the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com. He previously covered sports for the Montana Standard and was a managing editor for Outsider. More about Evan Reier