Months after signing a six-year contract extension that’ll keep him with the San Francisco 49ers through the 2017 season,
The 27-year-old outside linebacker continues to train as if he never got a new deal.
“I feel real confident going into the season,” Brooks said on Tuesday, following the team’s most recent Organized Team Activity in Santa Clara.
“I got the contract done, that’s a relief off my shoulders, but I still have to prepare as if I never got it. I still have to prepare like I never saw a play on an NFL field before.”
The underdog mindset has been with Brooks for the duration of his six years in the National Football League, and has been especially prevalent in the past four seasons he’s spent in San Francisco.
“Every year you’ve got to prove yourself and make a statement, and that’s what I’m trying to do,” Brooks said.
Coming off a career year, one in which he set career highs in starts (16), tackles (59), and sacks (7.0), Brooks is using offseason workouts to get himself more prepared for even bigger and better things in 2012.
Not satisfied with a new contract and an established three-down role as a starting outside linebacker in Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defensive scheme, the 6-foot-3, 259-pounder is using OTAs to work on his movement skills.
For every OTA session under the watch of position coach Jim Leavitt, Brooks and the 49ers linebackers work on pass coverage movements, in addition to hauling in passes being rifled at them by defensive assistant Peter Hansen.
In some cases, the linebackers don’t even see the passes being thrown in their direction. Some of the drills have the linebackers doing an about-face towards Hansen where they’re quickly testing hand-eye coordination and the linebacker’s ability to track the football in the blink of an eye.
Brooks and the 49ers linebackers love such drills. For Brooks personally, it’s another opportunity to stand out amongst a competitive group.
“It’s fun when you have a linebacker core like that,” Brooks added. “It just makes it more fun when you see
Not lacking confidence in his hands, Brooks freely admits he has the best in the bunch. However, Brooks quickly noted that each linebacker probably feels that way.
“That’s just the competition that we have within the group,” he said. “I’m pretty sure all of us could go out there and play some position on offense.”
Though Brooks has one career interception in 58 career games, the statistic could increase based on the number of snaps he played last season. Brooks was a big part of the 49ers defense, and as it evolves in year two under Fangio’s guidance, the outside linebacker eagerly anticipates bigger plays from last year’s second-best scoring defense.
“We could all make an interception,” Brooks said of the linebackers. “If it happens, there’s no telling what we might do when we get the ball in our hands.”
Hitting might have to wait until training camp, same with standing out in one-on-one pass rushing drills, but Brooks understands what the OTAs represent. For him, it’s all about rounding out his skill set as an every down defender.
“It’s what this time is for,” Brooks said. “It’s all about ball skills, showing your athleticism and just trying to fit within the defense. That’s all we can do right now, we can’t hit, so it’s about movement.”
Further helping Brooks’ confidence is the fact the players have time with the coaches unlike last offseason.
The 49ers defense learned Fangio’s system in training camp, yet, managed to be one of the league’s stingiest units.
In 2012, Brooks envisions a defense that can perform at a higher level based on minor adjustments made by Fangio and his staff.
“The system has been installed,” Brooks explained. “The coaches can go back and watch film and see what they can adjust on the defensive side of the ball. It’s only been a few minor adjustments that we’ve made in a few defenses.”