No pro athlete wants to be labeled their team’s “biggest surprise” of the season.
Even if the honor is valid, it’s disrespectful on some level — “How did you not think I was that good? THAT’S ON YOU, NOT ME!”
So with that, apologies to Tramaine Brock. He’s our pick for the 49ers’ biggest surprise player of 2013.
Brock pretty much became a shoo-in for this award the moment he beat out Nnamdi Asomugha for the No. 3 cornerback spot in training camp. A four-year veteran who had been primarily used on special teams prior to 2013, Brock never looked back on the way to totaling five interceptions, with a pick-six against the Texans in Week 5 (see below), and 15 pass deflections — both team highs. Brock also had 37 tackles, the fourth most among 49ers DBs.
Brock still has room to improve, but his aggressive play and penchant for creating turnovers should keep him in a 49ers uniform for years to come. The 49ers have already rewarded him with a four-year $16 million contract extension.
“He’s always been a fairly physical player and done well here on special teams when he wasn’t playing defense,” 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Brock to Bay Area News Group’s Cam Inman in December, after Brock made up for a rough evening against Roddy White by breaking up a pass that led to NaVorro Bowman’s 89-yard interception return for a touchdown, sealing a 34-24 win over the Falcons. “And like I said before, we always felt he had the ability. He just needed an opportunity, and he needed to show it when he got his opportunity. And he’s done that.”
Plenty of consideration for this award also went to one of Brock’s secondary-mates, Eric Reid. The rookie out of LSU started all 19 games at safety and earned his first Pro Bowl invite with 77 tackles — third most on the team — and four interceptions.
The hard-hitting Reid could turn out to be the 49ers’ best safety since Ronnie Lott.
Here are some highlights of his first season as a 49er:
To read about the 49ers’ top five biggest plays of 2013, click here.