The San Francisco 49ers have had all sorts of drama this season, and it keeps dragging on. Ahmad Brooks is now an unhappy camper as he appears to have all but lost his job in the 49ers starting lineup. FOX Sports 1's Mike Garafolo is reporting Brooks benched himself because he was upset with the decision to take away some of his snaps.
Brooks and Aaron Lynch got the starting nod, with Aldon Smith available in reserve. Smith did not play much at all in the first quarter, but then he slowly worked his way into the rotation. By the second half, he was effectively starting opposite Lynch, and Brooks was on the bench. He was seen sitting down and removing the tape from his cleats, indicating his day was over. After the game, Jim Harbaugh said "We are working through something". Normally, "working through something" indicates an injury, but the use of "we" was a new development. And it would appear to be because Brooks was unhappy.
While we always want to see the players stepping up for the team, we are frequently reminded that this is an every man for himself business. Furthermore, there is a lot of ego involved. Lynch has been the team's best outside linebacker to date, and Aldon Smith is obviously moving right back into the lineup. Brooks likely knows that if he is replaced by Lynch, the 49ers will ask him to take a pay cut, or straight out cut him. Of course, all reports (including Vic Fangio) indicated he showed up out of shape for training camp, and was slow out of the gates. He has seemingly started to come around, but with Aldon Smith returning, and Aaron Lynch emerging as a true force, Brooks likely sees that the writing is on the wall.
The question now is what the heck happens next. The team cannot trade Brooks with the trade deadline well past us. The team could release him, but he remains valuable even in reserve. Of course, if he is pissed off and causing problems in the locker room, there might be more value in releasing him. Ideally, the team gets through the season and then either releases or trades him. But if there will be problems, they might just decide to part ways.
Brooks is due to have a cap number of $9,648,750 in 2015. There is zero chance he is on the roster with that cap number. Either he re-negotiates, or the team cuts or trades him. My guess is the team ends up cutting him. I suppose they could just elect to do that now, but I don't think they want Brooks on the market for a playoff contender to add him. But can they put up with him complaining about playing time?
I imagine there will be some kind of sit-down on Monday, or maybe even on the plane flight home. The 49ers were not going to just cut him right after the game, but if they cannot work something out, they need to figure out an answer, and soon.