clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

One option where Ahmad Brooks could make sense playing ILB for 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers have some questions to figure out in their outside and inside linebacker depth charts. Could Ahmad Brooks provide a unique option for the team's nickel defense?

A common question regarding Ahmad Brooks is whether or not the San Francisco 49ers would consider moving him into an inside linebacker role. He played some ILB early in his career, but has been an outside linebacker for the 49ers. He has gotten some inside work on goal line packages, but generally speaking, he is an outside linebacker.

Defensive coordinator Eric Mangini met with the media over the weekend, and he was asked about Brooks's previous use inside on the goal line. The media person asked Mangini, "is that something that he might have a role at moving ahead?" Mangini had this to say:

"With Ahmad, one of the great things about Ahmad is his flexibility, because even in substituted defenses, he has the ability to go inside and play specific roles. He's an impressive athlete, the things that he can do at the line of scrimmage where he sets the edge, the strength, those components of it, but he's fluid too. He moves well in space, he changes directions well. When you look at sort of the prototypical outside linebacker with the skillset, both run and pass and then the coverage movement that he has, pretty good."

One of my favorite GIFs of Brooks came on this goal line play against the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Divisional playoffs a couple years ago.

I would not expect to see Ahmad Brooks doing anything too crazy on Saturday, but when the regular season gets here, maybe they mix it up a bit. The team will likely use a significant amount of their nickel substitution package. With Patrick Willis and Chris Borland retired, what about Ahmad Brooks potentially getting reps alongside NaVorro Bowman?

Nick Moody is looking like an intriguing option at inside linebacker, and very well could supplant Michael Wilhoite at inside linebacker. However, whomever of those two (or Philip Wheeler, Shayne Skov or Desmond Bishop) is in the base defense, it might make sense to substitute for them in the nickel. Imagine getting Brooks out there next to Bowman, with Aaron Lynch and Eli Harold (or maybe Corey Lemonier) at the defensive end positions? That might be the defense that gives the 49ers their best look in the nickel.