Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
While Ahmad Brooks consistently gets overshadowed by the other linebackers on the team, head coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio believe keeping him on the team is the best move they've made over the last couple years.
While many see the 49ers trade in the 2011 draft to move up and select quarterback Colin Kaepernick the best move that the current administration has made, head coach Him Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio believe that the best move they have made was to re-sign linebacker Ahmad Brooks.
"Vic Fangio made the comment the other day, 'The smartest thing we did as an organization was pay Ahmad Brooks and keep him as a 49er,' " Harbaugh said Friday. "We would all concur with that."
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Brooks' solid play has been huge for the 49ers throughout the 2012 season and in the team's quest to reach their sixth Super Bowl berth, even though he consistently gets overshadowed by the other linebackers on the team, like Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith. Brooks finished the 2012 regular season with 34 tackles and 6.5 sacks and has had at least five sacks from the outside linebacker position for the 49ers over the last four years.
"It's flattering," Brooks said of Harbaugh's high praise. "For it to be one of their smartest moves, it was one of my smartest moves, as well.
"It wasn't all about the money to me. I knew that coming back here I would be playing with a great group of guys and playing for a championship. So, it was a smart decision on my part, as well."
What Harbaugh seems most impressed with about Brooks is the fact that he is a steady performer week in and week out despite the fact that he does so with little to no attention from the fans or media.
"He's done it with very little fanfare in terms of how he talks about himself," Harbaugh said. "But he's been a tireless worker. I go back to the first days of the offseason program. I don't know if he ever missed a day. He's been a great contributor, great leader, and a really high performer on the field."
Brooks signed a six-year deal worth $37 million and isn't set to be a free agent until after the 2017 season. Bringing him back has kept a 49ers linebacker corps consisting of some of the most talented defensive players in the game together. That has enabled the Niners to have the third-ranked defense in 2012, which is one of the major factors as to why they're playing for the Lombardi Trophy in the upcoming Super Bowl.
Brooks played his first two seasons with the Bengals, who signed him after selecting him in the Supplemental Draft out of Virginia. After he was waived by the Bengals following final cuts before the 2008 season, he was signed by the 49ers, but didn't make it onto the field until the 2009 season. It was then that he demonstrated his worth. Neither he, nor the Niners, have looked back since.