The San Francisco 49ers could be without the services of outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks when they play the New York Giants on Sunday.
Brooks is currently away from the team due to the death of his older sister, according to Brooks' agent, who also told several media outlets on Thursday that the 49ers linebacker will not play in Week 5. Brooks' agent, Gregory R. Williams, told CSNBayArea.com that his client intends on returning to the 49ers early next week and will be available to play Oct. 18 against the Baltimore Ravens.
Prior to the announcement by Brooks' agent, defensive coordinator Eric Mangini was asked about the possibility of Brooks playing against the Giants.
Mangini said any disscussion of Brooks suiting up on gameday was "completely secondary" to the player's personal loss.
"All of our thoughts and prayers are with Ahmad," said the 49ers coach, adding that he sent Brooks a note wishing him well earlier in the week.
Third-year linebacker Corey Lemonier and rookie Eli Harold are options as potential replacements for Brooks in the starting lineup.
Mangini's defense is set to face another powerful passing attack. New York's signal-caller, Eli Manning, is the third Super Bowl-winning MVP that the 49ers have faced in the first five weeks of the regular season.
Furthermore, Manning utilizes his pair of deep-ball receivers in Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle, who both played collegiately at LSU. San Francisco's defensive play-caller said that Manning's downfield throws are a result of his pre-snap reads.
"Some of it's tempo or it's hurry up and that's one way that he can gather information," Mangini said. "Then you see him moving the pieces around, whether it's the tight end, the 'back, the wide receivers, it's another way that he gathers information. And you've got two talented guys on the outside."
Mangini said the key for the 49ers is mixing up defensive looks against a 12-year veteran like Manning.
"You can't do the same thing over and over again because he's going to get his players, his group into the right spots," the coordinator said.
When asked if his scheme will involve less blitzing like the gameplan utilized in Week 4 against the Green Bay Packers, Mangini said his plans would fluctuate depending on the opponent.
"I don't think you're going to say every single week it's going to look exactly the same," he said. "If anything, you have to adjust to where are the threats on the inside or the outside? What's the personality of the quarterback? Is it a guy that scrambles? Is it a zone-read type team?
"All those things that we face in the season change, so we have to be able to change with it and take shots where we can and take away the things that we have to take away based on what they're bringing to the game."
Eli Harold learns a lesson
San Francisco's third-round draft pick has not recorded a sack in four NFL games, but he was oh-so close to bringing down Aaron Rodgers last week.
"I was a little out of control," Harold told reporters of his near-sack encounter. "I came so free (and) my eyes got so big. I was like, 'I'm about to sack one of the best guys in the league.' In a snap of a finger, he broke the tackle."
Harold, who could factor more into San Francisco's plans this week, said his focus this week is on playing under control.
It's also centered on stopping Manning, who has been sacked only four times this year.
Kenneth Acker talks matchup with Beckham
San Francisco's second-year cornerback said he's looking forward to competing against New York's leading wideout.
"He attacks the ball," Acker said. "Quick guy. Nice hands. That's pretty much what I see."
The young defensive back said his self-evalution through four games has centered on defending the deep ball, a calling card of the Giants wideout.
"I don't feel like I'm attacking the ball like I'm accustomed to," Acker said. "I hold myself to high standards. Whenever the ball comes my way, I should at least touch it."