Tramaine Brock’s NFL career has been full of ups and downs.
Entering his seventh pro season, the 49ers cornerback – who came into the league as an undrafted free agent from little Belhaven -- will be counted on to be the team’s No. 1 cornerback. He’s coming off a solid season in which he played 15 games, had three interceptions, 11 passes defensed and was in on 53 tackles.
That was a big rebound from 2014, when injuries knocked him out of 13 games. It was a setback following his breakout 2013 season when injuries in the starting lineup allowed him to step in and make a big statement. He had five interceptions that season and 15 passes defensed as he made the case for being one of the league’s best up-and-coming corners.
Now with the start of training camp later this month, Brock, 27, wants to take the reins of the cornerback corps. After a disappointing 5-11 season and a change in coaching staffs, the 49ers are hoping for a fresh start – and so is Brock.
Recently he told a writer for the team’s website that he took up yoga this offseason to help him get better and to avoid injuries.
“Flexibility, stamina, all of that,” Brock said, of his reasons for adding yoga to his workout regimen. “It’s been helping right now. I feel better.”
Brock is expected to be the team’s top corner, with former slot cornerback Jimmie Ward the top candidate to start opposite him and Eric Reid and Antoine Betha at the safety spots.
The analytics website Pro Football Focus recently ranked the 49ers secondary No. 17 among the NFL’s 32 teams, noting that, on a struggling team in 2015, players such as Reid, Ward and Brock were above average.
If the 49ers defense hopes to be a stronger, though, Brock will need to continue his upward trend following the big step back he took in 2014.
“Brock didn’t come close to his career year of 2013,” wrote PFF, “but had a solid season after missing most of the 2014 season.”
To get there, Brock has been focusing this offseason on working harder than ever, learning a new defensive scheme, sharpening his fundamentals and being in the best shape possible.
“My mindset is real different this year,” Brock said. “I’m going back to the roots and just working.”
No doubt, too, that Brock will have to fend off a lot of young talent added to the roster in recent years. In the draft, general manager Trent Baalke selected three cornerbacks (Will Redmond, Rashard Robinson and Prince Charles Iworah) to go with youngsters such as Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Dontae Johnson and Kenneth Acker. The battle for jobs at cornerback could be fierce.