There's a human aspect to sports that we often overlook. Real people playing a real game. While we place these men on such a high pedestal, we have an out-of-sight-out-of-mind mentality when it comes to what they do while not featured where our eyes are focused -- on the football field.
That's sort of been the story for the beginning of Tramaine Brock's career with the San Francisco 49ers. In fact, Pro Football Focus' Jeff Deeney penned a piece on the road that the undrafted cornerback has taken to get where he is now as one of the team's presumptive starters on the outside.
Heck, I had forgotten that Brock was in that 2010 class. I knew he'd been around a while, but my brain was telling me that he was maybe entering his second or third season with the club, not his fourth. It really is astounding to consider the position he's put himself in, what with all the injuries and delays in development.
So that, perhaps more than anything, makes him becoming a starter all the more impressive. Certainly, the front office has shown a knack for recognizing good talent, but Brock is the one who has had to put in all the work getting himself healthy and continuing his development as a player.
The meat of the article, for me:
The 49ers had seen enough of Brock to know he was going to be an important piece going forward, and late in November they signed Brock to a four-year, $16 million extension, keeping him under contract until 2017.
Brock finished the 2013 regular season with a +8.1 coverage grade, which ranked ninth among qualifying cornerbacks. His 55.4% catch rate also ranked in the top third of cornerbacks, and he missed only two tackles during the regular season.
Deeney went on to recall his tipped pass that would fall into the hands of NaVorro Bowman -- The Pick at the Stick as it's now been lovingly labeled -- but, again, the really impressive thing about Brock has been his work ethic and dedication to put himself in a position to go from undrafted rookie, to being a starter in a vaunted defense.