That wasn’t the case this past week with San Francisco enjoying a well-timed bye week.
Brooks still spent a great deal of time at the 49ers training facility in Santa Clara during his time off, but he also took time to continue putting his house together and catch up on shows he’s recorded.
The 49ers linebacker also re-watched his team’s 24-3 win over the Arizona Cardinals on “Monday Night Football.”
It was a pretty rare occurrence for the 6-foot-3, 259-pound every-down contributor for San Francisco’s second-ranked total defense (271. 4 yards per game).
“It was really my first time recording the game on television,” admitted Brooks, who’s eighth on a stacked defense with 33 tackles on the year.
One play in particular caught Brooks’ eye, it was his tackle on Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, who entered the game on offense early to try and get around the edge of the 49ers defense.
Not against Brooks.
The linebacker who came into the season in the best shape of his life ran down the speedy play-maker with ease in the open field, holding Peterson to a two-yard loss on a swing route out of the backfield.
“When I saw that play,” Brooks began, “I had to rewind it back and forth. I saw it a bunch of times.”
Brooks finished the game with a sack, improving to 4.0 on the season, but his all-around efforts were more than appreciated by his peers and coaching staff, in particular.
“Ahmad has been outstanding all offseason, all season,” Jim Harbaugh said. “He’s just one of those guys that continually gets the job done, in the weight room, in the meeting rooms, on the practice field. He’s had great games, but he’s had great practices, too. Good in practice, good in games, that shows up once again.”
Brooks said his improved conditioning allows him to play every snap without getting tired. It also helps him keep up with the fastest linebackers in the NFL.
“That’s good to have a fast defense out there,” Brooks explained. “To have your linebackers running to the ball and ball-hawking every play, that just makes our defense special.
“There’s not too many people who can get away from us."
Count All-Pro teammate
“He’s just a complete, all-around player,” Smith said of Brooks, the starting left outside linebacker. “(He) sets the edge for us on the left side of the run defense, we have a pretty decent run defense and he gets after the passer. He’s everything you want to see.”
While Brooks continues to work in tandem with left defensive end
The in-house competition has remained constant throughout the season.
“It’s year-round, all the time,” McDonald explained. “We always talk about it.”
So when the 49ers defense found itself with a three-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter of last Monday’s win over the Cardinals, the left and strong side of San Francisco’s defense began competing with one another to see who could be more disruptive.
“It’s how we looked at it – we need to beat them to the ball because we knew they were coming,” McDonald added. “We told ourselves before every snap, ‘We’ve got to get there before they do.’”
Aldon Smith totaled 2.0 sacks on the day compared to Brooks’ lone quarterback takedown, but nonetheless, it was a successful effort from the 49ers defense.
Such moments are appreciated by Harbaugh, who enjoys the teamwork involved in rushing the passer in the closing moments of games.
“I think they’re all working so well together,” the 49ers coach said. “Ray, Justin, the linebackers, the inside guys, the secondary, everybody’s playing really good team defense. But yeah, they’re accomplishing some great things. You look back over the last five games, four of those games have been without the opponent scoring a touchdown. That’s really impressive, really hard to do in this league.”
San Francisco aims to make it five out of the last six games without allowing a touchdown this Sunday when they welcome the St. Louis Rams (3-5) into Candlestick Park.
“It’s time to get back to work and win some more ball games,” said Brooks, who will face Rams quarterback Sam Bradford for the first time since 2010.
Bradford and the Rams’ 24th-ranked passing attack (210.3 yards per game) attack defenses differently on tape according to Brooks.
“From what I know and what I’ve seen, they run a lot of bootlegs, so he’ll be rolling out quite a bit,” the 49ers linebacker explained. “You’ve got to be disciplined because sometimes you want to just go for the quarterback, but the time you decide to go, that’s when they use a run play where the running back might cut back to where we need to be at. You have to stay disciplined.”
In addition to bootlegs, Brooks and the 49ers front seven expect the ball to be coming out quickly from St. Louis’ quarterback.
It’s actually looked at as a sign of respect.
“Any team we play we expect them to get the ball out quick, because if they don’t get the ball out quick,” McDonald shared, “that means we’re not doing our job and they have all day to sit back there and try to pick our secondary a part.
“It’s good thing they’re getting rid of the ball, it means we’re doing our job.”
With the 49ers defense ranking among the league leaders in a variety of statistical categories (first in points allowed per game, 12.9) players like Brooks can be applauded for hard-working efforts behind the scenes.
Although Brooks, himself, might have to re-watch the game to get a greater sense of appreciation, those around him know how much he means to the defense.