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Guard Search
April 10 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
Offensive guard, Ray Brown has been a hot topic around 49ers headquarters as of late. The 39-year old Brown played in his first Pro Bowl game this past February. He is regarded as one of the top two offensive linemen the 49ers have along with Jeremy Newbery. Brown however, may not be with the team when the 2002-3 season kicks off on Thursday, September 5th.

A long time 49er, Brown's age has become a concern for the team. Rather his endurance, as a result of his aging has become a concern. The team is worried that Brown's performance will decline towards the end of the 2002 season as it did this past season, and thus wants to 'upgrade' the position with youth. Brown has stated that he will play at least one more year of football, but the 49ers - in typical fashion would rather not carry a player on the decline just because he still wants to play.

Brown has recently restructured his contract to a one year deal, with a $750 000 base. The minimum contract gives the 49ers the flexibility to release him after June first. Amazingly Brown understands this 'business decision'. The flexibility will allow the 49ers to try and find Brown's replacement either through the draft or free agency while keeping Brown around as an insurance policy. It is a pretty sweet deal for the team.

The team however hasn't found a suitable replacement for Brown yet. The players are either too old, not good enough or demanding too much money. Recently the team has narrowed it's search to Blake Brockermeyer and Ron Stone, two very competent offensive-lineman. There was guard Chris Naeole to who really liked his visit to San Francisco, and would have liked to join the team but the 49ers turned down his contract proposal. Replacing Brown will be a difficult task - and may not be necessary this season, but the team does need to upgrade its offensive line, with youth and brute strength.

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