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What releasing or not releasing Ahmad Brooks means for 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers may or may not have a decision to make with regard to outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks. We break down what the various decisions might mean.

For I think the third straight year, we are discussing the future of outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks. The San Francisco 49ers have plenty of cap room, but the pass rush needs improvement. They have a few options, including spending a day one or day two pick on an outside linebacker. They could also stand pat with hope Eli Harold develops. And of course, there are guys like Bruce Irvin and others on the market.

The last two offseasons have shown us there is no guarantee the 49ers will release Brooks. I continue to think it will happen, but who really knows at this point. That being said, whether or not the 49ers choose to release Brooks, we can potentially figure some things out about their offseason plans.

What it means if 49ers keep Brooks

If the 49ers do not release Brooks this week, I think it means they do not pursue a notable pass rusher in free agency. They don't go for a Bruce Irvin or other notable name if Brooks remains on the roster. There is still a decent chance they invest a decent amount in position in the draft. If Brooks sticks around, he likely opens training camp as the starter. It is very possible he is released or traded during camp, but that would be for Eli Harold or another young draft talent to take over the starting job.

What it means if 49ers cut Brooks

If the 49ers release Brooks, it is a little less clear what it means. It could mean the team thinks Eli Harold is ready to move into the starting lineup. It could also mean the team wants to make a push for a free agent pass rush option. It could also mean the team is prepared to invest heavily in the position in the draft. There are several options in play.

What happens

I'm going to go the other way at this point, and say the 49ers do not release Brooks yet. I think if they were going to release him in advance of free agency, it would have happened already. The team could decide to cut or trade him later, but I think the earliest it might happen is training camp. I think the 49ers invest in the position in the draft, and Eli Harold gets more opportunities, but I don't think they spend a lot of money.