July 27, 2012; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) during training camp at the 49ers practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE
Brooks played an essential role in the Niners defense last year, stepping into a starting role for the first time in his NFL career. Brooks showed he belonged, as the 49ers defense as a whole became an elite unit where the front seven earned much of the acclaim.
Entering his second year as a starter, Brooks claimed to be in the best shape of career at 270-pounds, with 16% body fat. Brooks played at 265 in 2011, but claimed he added 5 pounds of muscle this offseason as he witnessed all his weight room numbers increase.
And while Brooks added weight this offseason, he feels more "swift" out there, indicating he will be playing faster in 2012. Brooks was a tremendous run-stuffer, and did get to the quarterback 7 times, but he can improve as a pass rusher. He comes with a lot of brute force, but if he can add some speed to his game, we may really see his game take off.
The press conference only got more interesting after that. Follow me after the jump for what Brooks had to say next about the competition at 49ers training camp.
Brooks was asked about Aldon Smith, who also spoke to the media Wednesday, and he seemed to be a fan of Aldon's work. He claimed Smith is a "beast out there" and all the 49ers really have to do is cut him loose and let him do his thing.
No. 55 also noted a friendly rivalry budding between Ray McDonald, Ahmad Brooks and the "Smith Bros." on the right side.
OLB Ahmad Brooks & DE Ray McDonald have created a bit of a left side rivalry against the Smiths on the right side.— Mindi Bach (@MBachCSN) August 8, 2012
Not for no reason, the right side of the 49ers' defensive front receives much of the attention. Justin Smith and Aldon Smith make for a nearly unstoppable tandem, and individually are early predictions as DPOY candidates. Brooks and McDonald don't get half the hype the Smith's receive week-to-week.
Brooks and McDonald appeared to have strengthened their bond by creating this in-team rivalry -- a friendly competition to push each other.
Aldon Smith even confirmed the existence of this rivalry between the left and right side.
Brooks and McDonald have adopted the memento from Disney's Remember thewhere characters Gerry Bertier and Julius Campbell chant: "Left side! Strong side!"
The left side should be a strong side for the 49ers in 2012 and beyond. Brooks and McDonald are two players that have really come into their own after completing successful first-years as starters. This defense is certainly much stronger with them in starting roles. Hopefully they can eventually steal some of the thunder the Smith Bros. are getting on the right side.