49ers release linebacker Ahmad Brooks

San Francisco 49ers

Brooks was one of only five 49ers left from Superbowl XLVII, and only two players in franchise history have ever had more sacks

The San Francisco 49ers made a major move Friday, releasing 11-year veteran Ahmad Brooks. Brooks was expected to be the 49ers starting Sam linebacker this year as well, but it appears former third-round pick Eli Harold made a late push to claim the starting job.

Brooks started his career with the Cincinnati Bengals, who selected him with a third-round pick in the 2006 supplemental draft. He lasted only two seasons with the team before being cut. The 49ers claimed him off waivers and he became one of the most consistent players the franchise had seen in a long time, ending his 49ers career with 51.5 sacks, behind only Charles Haley and Bryant Young on the franchise’s all-time list.

Despite never having more than eight and a half sacks in a year, Brooks is respected around the league for both his run stopping and pass rushing ability. His best years came when he played opposite Aldon Smith, who commanded the most attention from teams and the media alike.

Playing in his junior’s shadow, Brooks became one of the most underrated linebackers in the league. With Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith on the same defense, he didn’t garner as much recognition as he should have, at least from the fans.

The media was keen enough to notice how key Brooks was and rewarded him with two second-team All-Pro selections and one Pro Bowl. These years were definitely the peak of his career, but Brooks hasn’t declined so much that he isn’t capable of playing in the NFL anymore. He still managed six sacks last year on a defense with not much else to fear.

Expect another team to pick him up fairly soon. Brooks has the versatility to play strong-side linebacker in a 4-3 under scheme or outside linebacker in a 3-4. A team looking for a complementary pass rusher like the Seattle Seahawks is in play, or the New England Patriots, who always seem to get the most out of a player the rest of us thought was washed up.

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