The San Francisco 49ers locked in linebacker Ahmad Brooks Tuesday through to the 2017 season when the organization signed him to a six-year contract extension worth $44.5 million, with $17.5 million guaranteed.
“Thank you. It feels great to be here with the organization that gave me the chance to go out there and showcase my ability,” said Brooks at his press conference Tuesday afternoon, according to the team’s press release. “We have a great team. We have a great organization, and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
Brooks, the 6-3, 259 pound Virginia native, joined the 49ers when he was claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Bengals on Aug. 31, 2008. Brooks saw no action on the field during the 2008 NFL season. Nevertheless, the six-year veteran played in 45 games (17 starts) over the following three seasons for the 49ers, as he registered 115 tackles, 18 sacks, forced six fumbles, and an interception.
When asked being cut by the Bengals was the best thing that happened for his career, which led to him being picked up by the 49ers, Brooks described his situation as a blessing in disguise.
“No. I mean, yes and no. I don’t know,” said Brooks. “I don’t like the simple fact that a team told me, “Well hey we don’t want you.” I’ve never had that happen to me ever in my life. So, it kind of felt like a girl broke up with me and broke my heart. That’s how I felt.
“So, it can also be a blessing in disguise,” he continued. “I didn’t see it at the time, but now it all paid off because I continued to work. I came in here and worked hard from not playing at all to being a full-time starter. It has definitely been an accomplishment for me.”
Since Brooks’ three-year span with the 49ers, his 18 sacks rank second to defensive tackle Justin Smith’s 22 sacks on the team. Brooks started all 16 games last season, setting career-highs in both tackles (59) and sacks (7.0).
In 2009, he set the franchise record for most forced fumbles by a linebacker in a single-season with five.
The 49ers’ defense finished seventh overall for the 2011 season – tied first with the Baltimore Ravens in nastiness.
The Bay Area team was led by their defense, followed with a solid running game powered by Frank Gore and inspired by the quality leadership of quarterback Alex Smith.
However, with the Brooks’ signing, the 49ers’ front seven can make a case of being the NFL’s best.
“Yeah, I think so. Personally, I say yes. There’s a lot of other competition,” said Brooks. “There’s a lot more competition in the league, but I think that we have the best linebacker corps, hands down.”
From being selected in the 2006 supplemental draft by the Bengals to becoming one of the NFL’s high paid athletes, Brooks, 28, has become a staple for the 49ers’ organization and could have command top dollar from another club through this year’s free agent market.
Instead, Brooks re-signed where he believes he should be.
“I don’t know. Just something was telling me to sign here,” said Brooks. “I feel like this is where I should be. These are the people that gave me a chance to go out there and get this contract. From the time I got into the NFL I felt like I should have been starting.
“And coaches were always giving me an excuse like, ‘well he doesn’t know the defense, he can’t learn the defense.’ That’s a lie. That’s always been a lie,” he continued. “We practice the same things every day. How can I not remember what I practiced every day? I’m just happy to get this chance at just having a coaching staff that believed in me to go out there and showcase my talent. So, that also plays a big part in that.”
Other than maturity, Brooks credits 49ers’ defensive coordinator Vic Fangio (along with his teammates and opportunities) for the position he is in today, and he is looking forward in accomplishing great things for the organization – and himself.
“When Parys (Haralson) went down, I guess he just went down for a week, and I had an opportunity to start against the Oakland Raiders,” said Brooks. “I did pretty good. I didn’t do the best, but I think that this year the coaching staff has really given me a chance to go out there, regardless if I made mistakes or not, they kept me out there for me to learn from my experience. Coach Fangio, I give him a lot of credit for that.
“I just feel comfortable playing in the system,” he added about playing in Fangio’s system. “He doesn’t ask for a lot. It’s just easy to me. For a guy like myself to think like that, it’s not just because of that, but I also have ten other great guys around me that make me look just as good. When you’re playing (with) guys like [DT] Ray McDonald, then I can rumble around. I can mess up, but Ray can make me look good as if I didn’t mess up. When you’re playing with guys like that, it just makes it a lot better for me to go out there and do things that I probably wouldn’t do if I were with another team.
“I’m just trying to better myself as a person and that’s pretty much it,” he continued. “Better myself as a father, as a teammate, as a brother, as a son, everything. And just be an example to kids and be an example to people that think that they can’t go on, or who might have doubts about doing big things in life and just be an example to people.”