Tuesday afternoon, the 49ers and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks came to terms on a new six year contract that will keep him with the team through 2017. Brooks moved into the starting lineup in 2011 and displayed a strong range of skills as he became an every-down outside linebacker for the first time in his career. Previously Brooks had been utilized primarily as a pass rush specialist, and seemed to resent the lack of further opportunities. Brooks spoke with the media after signing his new contract and addressed that issue:
From the time I got to the NFL, I felt like I should have been starting and coaches would always be giving me an excuses, like, ‘He doesn' t know the defense. He can't learn the defense.' That's a lie. That's always been a lie. We practice the same thing everyday; how can I not remember what I practice every day. I'm happy to get this chance and have a coaching staff that believes in me to go out there and showcase my talents.
Brooks was given the opportunity and ran with it, creating one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman need know further praise at this point as they were dominant on the inside. Opposite Brooks, Parys Haralson and Aldon Smith worked in tandem to create a dynamic presence at the other outside linebacker position. Haralson handled rushing downs while Smith came in when the team switched to their nickel. Smith is expected to take over the starting role opposite Brooks, leaving Haralson potentially looking for a new job.
Although Brooks will make plenty of money during the course of the contract, he explained that part of the reason he re-signed now instead of testing free agency was the dynamic defense of which he was a part. The 49ers are a team that will win games and give players a chance for postseason glory, and that counts for something in negotiations. Add in playing with this dynamic linebacker corps and it makes further sense:
What does it mean to be part of that linebacker corps?
"It means a lot. NaVarro and Pat are two great inside linebackers and they complement each other well. I'm glad to be on outside of them playing with them. We'll be a great defense for a long time, as long as we continue to draft guys like Aldon and NaVarro. The defense will be the best in the NFL."