SANTA CLARA – Rookie Trent Brown figured he would compete for a spot as Anthony Davis’ backup.
But Brown, a seventh-round draft pick from Florida, never even met Davis before the five-year NFL veteran announced his retirement on Friday. Davis did not take part in the 49ers’ offseason program before stating his intention to step away from the NFL for a year or two to rest his body and brain.
Brown’s goal has changed dramatically. He said his goal is to win the job to replace Davis as the 49ers’ starting right tackle.
[RELATED: 49ers tackle Anthony Davis retires from NFL]
“Me being a rookie, I was kind of looking forward to picking his brain and learning from him,” Brown said of Davis. "Now, it’s time to hit the ground running and do the best I can, listen to the coaches and watch the other vets.”
Brown has lined up with the 49ers’ first-team offense since he reported to the offseason program three weeks ago.
“Being with the first team, I definitely feel like I got to look like I’m part of the first team,” Brown said. “I feel like I have to match what they’re doing and their tempo. That’s been a positive thing for me.”
Brown has made the most strides of any of the team’s rookies since reporting to the team’s practice facility.
Brown measured at 6 foot 8 ½, 355 pounds at the NFL scouting combine. He has already noticeably in better physical condition under the team’s nutrition plan and workout regimen.
Aside from his enormous stature, the one characteristic of Brown’s that stands out on the practice field are his nimble feet. He said he owes it to his earlier sports experiences, as well as daily offseason work with an Agility Ladder.
“Believe it or not, when I was younger I was a skill player,” Brown said. “I started out playing running back. Played a little quarterback, cornerback, receiver, linebacker. In basketball, I played guard, too. So it really wasn’t a big thing. I can move in space. It’s always been one of my attributes.”
Brown will not be handed the starting job. Veteran Erik Pears started six seasons at right tackle before moving to right guard last season with the Buffalo Bills. The 49ers could also consider moving right guard Alex Boone to right tackle.
But, with one week remaining in the 49ers' formal offseason program, Brown has put himself in position to be in the mix for a starting job when the pads go on during training camp.
“I like the way he’s working,” coach Jim Tomsula said. “But we have a lot of work to do. I’m not telling you Trent Brown is going to start at right tackle; don’t make any mistakes there. I’m not telling you he won’t, but he has a lot of work to do. He has potential. His development is really exciting.”