49ers Blog and Q&A

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

September 24, 2008
Spencer and Brown: a contrast in cockiness

The 49ers' new No. 3 cornerback is nothing like their previous No. 3 cornerback. Whereas Shawntae Spencer is tall and lanky, Tarell Brown is three inches shorter and more muscular.

But that's a minor discrepancy compared to their dispositions. Everyone whose been covering the team for a while remembers an exchange with a gloomy Spencer that came after a summer practice his rookie year. After the practice, Dennis Erickson had high praise for the rookie. Spencer, however, had a different take. "I don't know what everybody else is watching," he said while giving a self-deprecating assessment that made him sound a lot like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. "I mean, I'm making way too many mistakes. I'm going through those growing pains just like everyone else. It's a long, tough process to make this jump from college to pro ball." If you had been there that day you would have sworn that Spencer was on the verge of being cut. In other words, he was decidely un-cornerback-like, dwelling on mistakes and sounding like a worry wart.

Brown, meanwhile, sounds exactly like a cornerback - aggressive, intense and confident, bordering on cocky. "My confidence has always been high. Always. I never really lost confidence. I've always trusted in my ability and always had confidence. The thing is just waiting your turn and seizing the moment." Brown also admitted he is playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. A couple of brushes with the law prior when he was at Texas damaged his draft status, and he lasted until the fifth round when the 49ers picked him. "Oh yeah," he said when asked whether he still thinks about that. "Definitely. I've got that in the back of my mind all the time."

When Ahmad Brooks first arrived in Santa Clara, the 49ers had him practicing exclusively behind Patrick Willis at "Mike" linebacker. Now he's practicing exclusively at "Ted." This is just me thinking aloud (on-line) but it doesn't seem as if the 49ers are particularly enamored of either Takeo Spikes or Jeff Ulbrich, who have been rotating at "Ted" throughout games. After all, as Mike Nolan is so fond of saying, "you don't have two starters, you have two back-ups." And I wonder if we'll see them start working Brooks -- younger, bigger, more athletic -- into the rotation at some point this season.

Safety Keith Lewis said today that he actually hyper-extended his knee in the Seattle game and then aggrevated it while covering a kickoff against Detroit. Neither he nor Michael Lewis practiced today, a concern for the 49ers considering Keith Lewis is Michael Lewis' backup. If neither played Sunday, the 49ers would turn to Dashon Goldson, who was limited in practice with a shoulder sprain. Said Keith Lewis: "I can't make any promises but I should be good to go. Hopefully, hopefully."

I was wrong earlier when I wrote that we won't be seeing my guy Carl Nicks on Sunday. Apparently, Nicks will fill in at left guard for Jamar Nesbit, who was suspended Tuesday. Here's what my guy Mike Triplett wrote about my guy Nicks today: "Nesbit will likely be replaced in the starting lineup by rookie guard Carl Nicks, a fifth-round pick out of Nebraska. Nicks (6 feet 5, 343 pounds) turned heads during training camp and the preseason with an impressive combination of power and athleticism."

The 49ers and team partners will donate $35,000 to Warren Easton High School in New Orleans and take part in a locker-painting ceremony at the school on Saturday. The school, the oldest public school in New Orleans, took on eight feet of water from Hurricane Katrina and was closed for one school year.

-- Matt Barrows


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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