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SANTA CLARA — The last time the 49ers played at Levi’s Stadium, against the Rams on Sept. 21, I glanced down at the team bench between a couple of random plays. NFL offensive lines tend to sit as a group on the bench, frequently in the same pattern in which they line up on the field. And there was Trent Brown, the 49ers’ starting right tackle, at the far right of a chain of O-linemen. From my sky-high vantage point, it looked like Brown was perched atop the backrest of the bench rather than the seat.

I looked through my binoculars and found that, no, Brown was not elevated. It just looked like he was getting a boost, because he tends to dwarf even other NFL linemen.

Brown specializes in optical illusions. Last November, 49ers guard Joshua Garnett tweeted a photograph with the message: “Does anybody see anything wrong with this picture?”

At first peek, probably no one did. The photo showed the 49ers lined up for an offensive snap — beefy guys in an offset row. Then you realized the right guard was missing. To Brown’s left was center Daniel Kilgore. To his right were a pair of tight ends, Garrett Celek and Vance McDonald. Where was Garnett? Completely hidden behind Brown. For the record, Garnett stands 6-foot-4 and weighs about 312 pounds.

Someday I may write about Trent Brown’s performance on the field. I will quote his Pro Football Focus evaluation and cite his sack rate, and I’ll explain how he made the 49ers roster as a seventh-round draft choice in 2015, and was in the starting lineup by his second season. But not now. Today I’m writing about Trent Brown and his role as a large, large human being.

As one of his teammates told the Palm Beach Post when he was at the University of Florida: “Trenton Brown is the biggest person I ever saw in my life.”

Is he the biggest I’ve ever seen? Not sure about that. Brown is listed at 6-foot-8, 355 pounds on the 49ers’ team roster, and he told me the weight is accurate. I’ve met Shaquille O’Neal. He’s 7-1 and, post-playing days, must exceed the 325 pounds at which he competed in the NBA. I’ve always figured the biggest football player I’d encountered was Terdell Sands, a quiet, countrified Raiders defensive tackle who was listed at 6-7, 337. Daniel Kilgore, the 49ers center, nominated his former linemate Leonard Davis, a pillar of muscle who went 6-6, 375.

It’s hard to parse when you’re judging height and weight, muscle and fat. But let’s just say Brown is in the conversation regarding The Biggest Man in Sports.

His size is no genetic mutation. His father, Reginald Brown Sr., stands 6-7. So does his older brother, Reginald Jr. His maternal grandfather is 6-6, as are his mother’s brothers. But Trent outgrew them all.

Brown was a long baby at 22 inches, but he weighed a highly average 6 pounds, 9 ounces. Of course, he was a month premature. By elementary school in Albany, Georgia, he was towering over his classmates. By fifth grade, he could look his mother, 5-8 Tiffany Brown, in the eyes. That was also the year he started wearing the same shoe size as his dad.

Reginald Jr. is little more than a year older than Trent, and they made quite a pair at the playground.

“They always would say, ‘There’s them Brown boys,’” Trent recalled a couple weeks ago, as I talked to him at his locker at Levi’s Stadium. “Because if they saw one of us, they would see the other.”

Reginald Sr. was a police officer in Albany. (He’s a major now.) Tiffany worked in education. The Browns were comfortable, but keeping up with their sprouting sons was a challenge. Imagine feeding them. “I remember a lot of trips to Sam’s Club,” Reginald Sr. told me over the phone.

Imagine clothing young Trent. “There was a time when every time he’d get new shoes, it seemed like a month later he’d say they were too small,” Reginald Sr. recalled. “We’d say, ‘That can’t be.’ But you’d feel his toes and yep, they were too small.”

Reginald Sr. was a good basketball player who competed at the University of Mobile. Reginald Jr. and Trenton always played both hoops and football.

“Since I came out of the womb, I’ve had a ball in my hand,” Trent said.

But the Browns ran into a problem well known by any parent of a large boy. Other moms and dads didn’t want their kids to play with Reginald Jr. and Trent. It made them nervous.

“You know how kids roughhouse and play rough sometimes,” Brown told me. “I would kind of get in trouble sometimes. They were like, ‘Boy, you’re bigger than everybody, you don’t know how big you are, you don’t know how strong you are.’ I’m like, ‘I’m just being a kid. I’m eight years old. I don’t know better.’”

That’s one reason the Browns decided early on that their sons would compete against older kids. Reginald Jr. and Trent always played up a level or two. There were other reasons. Reginald Sr. said he wanted them to learn humility, and to improve their games as much as possible. Still, other parents complained.

“What’s funny about that is, they would always try to say that me and my brother were old and all this stuff,” Trent said. “It’s guys that were four years older than me that I was playing against. They were freshmen in high school when I was still in elementary school.”

Trent, always agile for his size, was a guard on the basketball court. In football he played everything from running back to defensive end to defensive back. He starred at Westover High School in Albany and earned a scholarship at Florida. Believe it or not, Brown was bigger in college. In fact, he is the largest football player in Gators history. His weight soared to 387 pounds at Florida until he got it under control.

Brown wasn’t entirely productive as a collegian, but his size made NFL scouts take notice. There’s more to playing offensive tackle than mass, but it’s the base-level requirement for a position that requires moving defensive linemen on running plays, and shielding your quarterback from them on pass plays.

As Kilgore said: “Trent definitely lucked out in the gene pool. His parents are two people you’d want as parents. Trent should be very appreciative.”

NFL players are generally large men who spend their days around other large men, but even they are wowed by the sight of Trent Brown.

“I saw him at the (NFL scouting) combine,” said 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead, listed at 6-7 and 292 pounds. “Being a taller guy, to have someone eye level with you is new.”

Brown acknowledges that he matches or exceeds pretty much every big dude out there. He mentions Steelers nose tackle Daniel McCullers (6-7, 352) as someone who comes close; they played together in junior college, which sounds comically unfair.

“We got two big guys here in Arik and DeFo (defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, listed at 6-7, 300),” Brown added. “But I’m bigger.”

And that brings challenges when Brown isn’t playing football.

“He probably can’t ride a rollercoaster,” Kilgore said. “And I’m sure it’s hard to find clothing, and a car for his size.”

Kilgore was 2 of 3. Brown said his GMC Yukon Denali is perfectly roomy. But no, he is not allowed to ride on rollercoasters. (He said he wouldn’t want to anyway.) And yes, clothing options are limited for a man with 37-inch arms, a 47-inch inseam and size-17 feet.

“That’s been a task since forever, man,” Brown said. “Especially shoes. I haven’t bought shoes out of the store since fifth grade. … I’m glad I played traveling sports, because you get introduced to some of that stuff.”

Now he has a lot of clothes made to fit. Brown employs a stylist to help with some of that.

“I’ve always had an eye for fashion,” he said. “I never really looked sloppy or anything. That’s one thing I’ve always kind of prided myself on.”

Flying is tricky, too. Brown makes sure to use the bathroom before boarding, because there’s no way he’s going to fit in an airplane restroom that he describes as “like a little cubbyhole.” And he’ll be in misery if he has to fly coach for more than an hour or two. That made things hard for Brown when he was a rookie, because the 49ers backups were in coach. When he took over a starting position in 2016, he moved up to first class. But that didn’t last long. This year, all the players are in back.

Brown gets an assist on road trips, though. The 49ers’ logistical team places name tags in all the seats, and they take care of Brown by assigning him to the rear exit row.

This Gulliver-like existence sounds foreign to us Lilliputians, but of course it’s just normal life to Trent Brown. What can he do but shrug those massive shoulders and accept his role as the biggest guy in the room?

“The crazy thing is, most time I don’t even eat a lot,” Brown said. “I’m just meant to be a big guy.”

You can reach columnist Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Skinny_Post.

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