SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Tramaine Brock #26 of the San Francisco 49ers running back an interception tries to get away from Martellus Bennett #80 of the Dallas Cowboys in the third quarter of an NFL football game at Candlestick Park on September 18, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The Cowboys won the game in overtime 27-24. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
One player that has flown under the radar the last two seasons is cornerback Tramaine Brock. The 49ers signed him as an undrafted free agent following the 2010 NFL Draft and he has taken a very structured path up the ranks of the roster. He has earned more and more playing time, slowly raising his profile in his two seasons with the 49ers. As part of his off-field efforts, Brock recently unveiled a new personal website, TramaineBrock.com. The website will include a blog, video and the latest news surrounding Brock. The 49ers cornerback signed with AVE-HM Media to help with his digital and PR work, thus getting this website up and running.
Tramaine Brock is in an interesting situation heading into the 2012 season. He has incrementally created more opportunities for himself, but he now finds himself in an interesting situation at a deep cornerback position. The 49ers addition of Perrish Cox is the obvious change in the competitive situation, but Curtis Holcomb makes his return from injury, and the top of the depth chart is pretty stacked with Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver.
Brock faces an uphill battle, but while it's a bit cliched, Brock has been battling for a roster spot and playing time for two seasons now. He was a longshot to make the roster in 2010, as he converted from safety to cornerback. He experienced just about all the NFL had to offer in 2010 as he was active for three games, inactive for eleven weeks and on the practice squad.
We saw him take a nice little step forward in 2011 as he managed to become a regular contributor off the bench. He recorded a pair of interceptions in his first two games, but then his season took a tough turn when he broke his hand. He missed three weeks with the injury and by the time he returned Chris Culliver had secured significant playing time. One has to wonder how the season would have developed if Brock had stayed healthy. Culliver came on strong, but it would have made for an interesting battle through the first half of the season.
I had a chance to talk with Tramaine late last week and he had some interesting comments about his development. I recorded the interview, but unfortunately I didn't get good enough sound on it. My primary questions revolved around his improvement from year one to year two, and what he has been working on to continue his improvement.
Although Brock spent most of his rookie season inactive or on the practice squad, he managed three active weeks. In week seven, Tarell Brown suffered a back strain and was inactive the following week. Brock was signed off the practice squad and active for the team's week eight contest against Carolina. That gave Brock an opportunity to get in some work and he thinks that really helped him take a step forward. Getting thrown in the deep end, so to speak, is always a good way to figure out exactly where you stand in this league.
While there are plenty of mechanical and skill issues to deal with in covering wide receivers, Brock told me that he has spent a lot of time in his young career learning about opposing offenses. Although every offense has its own nuances, learning the basics of how opposing offenses can operate can make for a better defensive back. The cornerback role is often about reacting to what the offense does. Knowing some of the basics of how offenses can operate can give a corner an edge on game day.
As we move into the 2012 season, where do you see Tramaine Brock ended up in this roster battle? Curtis Holcomb is a bit of an x-factor coming off his injury, but if Brock can continue the path he has followed over the last two years, maybe that's enough to surpass Perrish Cox in that fourth cornerback role. The 49ers have some very strong depth at the cornerback position, and Brock indicated in our chat that he is up for the challenge. We've heard that from a lot of 49ers this offseason and it should make for an intriguing training camp on many levels.