San Francisco 49ers: Expectations for the 5 Worst Players in 2016 Season
By Peter Panacy
Linebacker Ahmad Brooks
2015 PFF Grades:
- Overall: minus-10.2
- Run Defense: plus-5.0
- Pass Rush: minus-7.7
- Pass Coverage: minus-0.8
Veteran linebacker Ahmad Brooks is nothing like the Pro Bowl-caliber player he was back in 2013, when he earned his first trip to Hawaii on, what was then, a stellar 49ers defense.
True, Brooks was tied for the team lead — along with up-and-coming linebacker Aaron Lynch — in sacks (6.5) last year. But Brooks was also a liability in nearly every other category, as the above PFF grades suggest.
His run defense was good enough to retain a role this upcoming season, and his coverage abilities aren’t awful, but it’s clear the Niners won’t be envisioning him as a long-term solution at this position.
Contractually, the 49ers are obliged to Brooks through 2017, per Over the Cap. But his lofty contract numbers could easily make him a cut candidate after this season.
So why didn’t the 49ers part ways with him this offseason, especially if the numbers don’t add up to the salary? Remember, Brooks has seen his playing time decrease over the last two years.
It’s a fairly simple argument, really.
The 49ers didn’t add a notable pass-rusher in free agency this offseason. And while the team may hope younger pass-rushers, like linebacker Eli Harold or EDGE Tank Carradine fill the void, there isn’t any guarantee either player winds up fitting the bill. It’s an argument backed up by David Fucillo of Niners Nation:
"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."
If either Harold or Carradine wind up showcasing a lot of promise during camp and the preseason, perhaps Brooks is moved. But there isn’t any reason to do so just yet.
Brooks staying on the roster in 2016 may also be merely an insurance policy against the development of either younger player.
Regardless, don’t expect any sort of drastic increase in production from the 32-year-old veteran.
Next: QB Colin Kaepernick