It was a reality check for the San Francisco 49ers and everybody watching the NFC Championship when 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown was hurt in a collision with the ultra-aggressive safety Dashon Goldson. Brown left the game with head and neck injuries and the 49ers went on to lose the game to the New York Giants.
It was then and there that we found out how much of an underrated role Brown played on the 49ers. Tramaine Brock came in to replace him in the game, and although he had solid coverage on then Giants receiver Mario Manningham, Manningham hauled a pass in for the touchdown and the fourth quarter lead.
Brown had 40 tackles and four interceptions in 2011. The NFL leader in interceptions last season was a tie between Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, Chargers safety Eric Weddle and Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington, who all had seven interceptions.
Knowing those statistics and where Brown sits in the rank of some of the best defensive backs in the NFL, it still did not stop him from making a very bold prediction last week on Twitter, saying, "Quick note..I will lead the league in INT's and make pro bowl #fuel to fire."
I am not sure many in the NFL knew who Brown was at of the start of the 2011 season, and now he is predicting that he will lead the league in interceptions in 2012?
“It’s not cockiness or anything like that, it’s just confidence. Any time you play you have to have confidence,” Brown said.
But why can't Brown leading the league in interceptions in 2012?
The 27-year-old has been one of the most consistent defensive backs for the 49ers in the past four seasons, playing in all but two games for San Francisco since 2008. He has also averaged right around 40 tackles per season season since 2009.
However, we are talking about interceptions here, and Brown just this past year made a name for himself in that category. Jumping from four interceptions to seven interceptions or more in a season is easier said than done at this point.
Brown did pick a good team to make that bold prediction on, though. If he was on any other team in the NFL, his tweet may have been taken as ridiculous, but he is on one of the best defenses in the NFL in the 49ers. They have a solid pass rush, a defensive line that can stop the run unlike any other team in the NFL and a secondary that is consistently getting better.
A motivated cornerback may be just what this team needs.
We know Brown is going to get his chances for interceptions this season, which is why him leading the NFL in interceptions is not as crazy as many think. On the other side of Brown, the 49ers have Carlos Rogers who quickly made a name for himself last season when he hauled in six interceptions—just one off the NFL lead.
With Rogers' new reputation for locking down opposing wide receivers, it would appear Brown will get his shot this season, as more balls will surely be thrown his way.
Brown had four interceptions in 2011, but seeing him reach six or seven interceptions in 2012 just like Rogers did in 2011 is very possible and should not be taken as a foolish prediction.