No. 4: How Will Ahmad Brooks Fare at SAM Linebacker?
The switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 base means veteran linebacker Ahmad Brooks heads over to the strong-side, or SAM linebacker, position this season.
He’s the best fit on San Francisco’s roster to do this. But at 33 years old, Brooks is nothing close to the Pro Bowl-caliber player he was back in 2013. Last year, he was little more than a situational pass-rusher at best.
SAM linebackers are tasked with covering tight ends and, when applicable, providing something in the pass rush.
Brooks was tied for the team lead in sacks last year (six), so this isn’t exactly a problem. And his 72.4 pass-coverage grade, per Pro Football Focus, last year suggests he should be able to handle coverage duties again in this new scheme.
Age is the primary factor here though. While Brooks is entering a contract year, the thought of him slowing down is at the forefront, and the Niners have yet to find a suitable replacement for him. It’s a prime reason he’s still on the roster despite being the subject of cut talks for years now.
If there is a bonus, Brooks appears to be in much better shape this season.