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49ers Profiles: Ahmad Brooks, The Pet Project

Ninjames' Note: A couple days ago I took a look at C Eric Heitmann in my first 49ers Player Profile, and today I'll be covering LB Ahmad Brooks. I don't have nearly as much to say about Brooks as I did Heitmann, but understand that's how these things go. Some days it will just be a few paragraphs, and other days I can bang out an essay or two on a player and what kind of person he is. Without further ado, I'll get to Brooks.

The 49ers have a pretty solid linebacking core. They just solidified the position by locking up inside linebacker Patrick Willis for another five years, and have, in my opinion, one of the best TED linebackers in the league in Takeo Spikes. On the outside they utilize Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson and the man I'll be writing about--Ahmad Brooks. Make the jump to see what I have to say.

You can't quite see him, but that's Warner
           on the ground, taking a nap.

Ahmad Brooks played his college ball at Virginia and wasn't a slouch. He was a starter his freshman year and led the team with 117 tackles. He also had four sacks, six passes defensed, ten tackles for loss and fifteen quarterback pressures. He was one of three Butkus award finalists, an award given to the best linebacker in the country and also earned All-American honors.

Brooks also was a very good high school player, too. His team was wildly successful while he was there, not that high scool is a huge indication of what a player can do, it's worth noting that he had 204 tackles with 34 for a loss in one year, as well as a 12.6 average yards per carry on offense.

I'm not including the high school bit to express that he should be a good player in the NFL, but it's worth noting that even at that level, from a physicality standpoint, he was a beast amongst boys. Brooks is a supremely gifted athlete and definitely one of the better athletes at the linebacker position.

But Brooks hasn't come without an asterisk next to his name. He had injury problems dating back to when he played in high school, and in his junior year of college injuries severely limited him. But injuries alone aren't the only reason Brooks was limited in his last year of college. Brooks has always had been a troubled individual.

He's run into problems with the law, and at Virginia he had several issues with his coaches. Brooks elected to return to Virginia for his senior season, but was released by the team before the NFL Draft--Brooks petitioned to get into the draft, but was unsuccessful and entered the supplemental draft instead. From there he was selected by the Bengals (surprise!) in the third round. 

He played well his first season, not fantastically, but he had some starts. In 2007, he looked much improved, but he tore his groin muscle and was injured for the season. From there, our 49ers took him and became our pet project. What people need to understand about Brooks is the fact that at the time he was one of the top linebackers in the draft, he was amazingly athletic--if you take away the injuries and the off the field problems you'd have an explosive player. Scouting reports for Brooks stated that he'd only get better with more playing time, and that's what he seems to be getting now.

Who knows how he'll do in 2010, but it certainly seems like Brooks has turned things around. He's had problems with the law, an assault case, one that I certainly hope he's not proud of. I don't want that kind of player on my team but I trust in Singletary, and Singletary trusts in him--could you imagine if Brooks were to reach that potential? There's not another coach in the league that could get him there; this I firmly believe.