One of the feel-good stories of the 2010 NFL offseason has come to an ugly end seven years later. The San Francisco 49ers signed undrafted free agent Tramaine Brock out of tiny Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss.
On April 6, 2017, Brock was arrested in Santa Clara, Calif., for suspicion of felony domestic violence against his girlfriend. He made bail the next day, and shortly afterwards, San Francisco released him.
Brock’s arrest happens to be the first major off-the-field incident for the new regime of General Manager John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan. It is the third new coach in San Francisco in the last three years. They wasted no time in releasing the player.
Before Brock, no player in the history of Belhaven football had played in the NFL, and his road wasn’t the typical path.
He played at Long Beach High School in Gulfport, Miss., and then at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He signed with the University of Minnesota after two years at MGCCC but left Minnesota after being suspended for academic ineligibility. He went from Big Ten-conference school Minnesota to tiny NAIA Belhaven.
Brock played his senior year with the Blazers but went undrafted in the 2010. He ended up signing with the 49ers and landed on the practice squad after training camp. In his rookie NFL season, Brock appeared in three games and made just three tackles.
The former Belhaven star played in 11 games in the following year and recorded his first career interception. He would play in all 16 games in the 2012 season and forced his first career fumble that season. The 49ers also reached Super Bowl XLVII that year but ended up losing to the Baltimore Ravens.
Brock had his best season as a professional thus far in 2013, with five interceptions, 13 defended passes and a touchdown. He played in all 16 games and started in seven during the season, which is also the first time that he started in the NFL.
Injuries derailed the Gulfport native’s 2014 season as he played in just three games with only two starts. Brock bounced back in 2015 with 15 starts in 15 games played with three interceptions.
Brock started all 16 games for the first time in his career last season as he set a career high in tackles with 49 total stops. He made one interception and forced this second career fumble.
The 49ers have a recent history of players, such as Ray McDonald and Aldon Smith, with off-the-field issues. The release of Brock was a message to the rest of the team on how things will now be done in San Francisco, even if Shanahan says it wasn’t message. When the team was winning earlier this decade, it overlooked bad behavior by some players.
Recently, San Francisco hasn’t been winning games, and that means the hammer comes down faster. Brock wasn’t a star for the 49ers so it will be interesting how this new general manager and head coach will act if a nationwide household name slips up.
Brock’s release is also indicative of the new stance that the NFL is trying to take on domestic violence. The league has been the subject of plenty of negative press regarding how teams and the NFL itself have handled that issue in the past.
The league is trying to get tougher on it, and Brock’s release is just another sign that things are changing in the NFL. Right now, Brock is a free agent once again, and he might stay that way for a long time or never get another chance in the league at all.