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.