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Ahmad Brooks Looks to Replicate Past Success against Cam Newton


**Cam Newton can do it all as a quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. He can throw from the pocket. He can lower his shoulder and pick up extra yards as a runner, too.

So the 11-plus defenders the San Francisco 49ers utilize on gameday will be on high alert whenever No. 1 has the ball in his hands this Sunday in Charlotte.

"We've got be aware of him scrambling," Ahmad Brooks said. "It's going to be imperative for us to set the edges and have our contain on him."

The veteran 49ers linebacker knows what it's like to defend Newton all too well. Brooks is one of a handful of holdovers from San Francisco's 2013 team that went into Bank of America Stadium and defeated Newton's Panthers in the NFL's Divisional Playoff round.

Brooks recorded six tackles and 2.5 sacks in a 23-10 road victory for the 49ers on Jan. 12, 2014, a win that sent the 49ers to a third consecutive NFC title game. Brooks also sacked Newton twice more in a regular season meeting in 2013.

Sunday's matchup features a new-look 49ers squad in the underdog role visiting Carolina once again. The Panthers (0-1) are the defending conference champions, who are looking for their first victory of the season after being defeated once again by the Denver Broncos in a rematch of Super Bowl 50. The 49ers (1-0) are out to make another statement after blanking the Los Angeles Rams, 28-0, on "Monday Night Football."

"It's another test for us," Brooks said of the Week 2 matchup. "Last week was a great start for us. It was a confidence booster for us. It's a promising defense. It's a promising year for us. We're excited. We have a challenge ahead of us, but we're ready for the challenge."

Players and coaches have stressed how group tackling will be a big point of emphasis this week. Carolina's diverse running schemes will deploy Jonathan Stewart in traditional running formations. But Newton's ability to keep the ball - both between the tackles and around the perimeter - make Carolina's offense one of the NFL's toughest to defend.

The Panthers rushed 32 times for 157 yards in their Week 1 loss to the Broncos. Stewart led the way with 15 carries for 54 yards on the ground. Newton threw for 194 yards and a touchdown pass. He added 11 rushes for 54 yards and one rushing score.

"Just like we talked about last week with (Rams running back Todd) Gurley," defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil began, "you've got to play great team defense. Obviously, (Newton) has an unbelievable ability to extend plays. He can make plays with the ball above his shoulder throwing it and below his shoulder running it. He's a true dual-threat quarterback, and he's dynamic at doing both. He's the league MVP. It's going to take an exceptional effort."

O'Neil's Week 1 gameplan called for a variety of defenders to play in sub packages. The coordinator maintained that he will mix and match his personnel groupings in order to accentuate the strengths of his players.

Brooks, for example, continues to be a pivotal player in the 49ers scheme.

"Ahmad has a unique combination of size and speed," Chip Kelly said on Thursday. "Usually you don't have guys that are that big, 265-270 pounds that are that athletic. That's one of the first things that struck us when we got here is watching Ahmad run around.

"I think that's what really kind of helps us do a lot of different things with him. We can deploy him in a lot of different ways because of his athleticism."

Brooks recorded the first of two sacks for San Francisco in Week 1. The sack on Case Keenum also put Brooks in a tie for third place on the 49ers all-time sack list (46.5).

He'll be counted on once again to set the edge against Carolina and rush Newton from a variety of spots on passing downs like outside linebacker or as an interior defensive lineman.

"I'm here to be the best football player I can be," he said. "If (Coach O'Neil) thinks I'm versatile enough to play all those positions, I'm all for it."

Brooks is expecting Newton to be more comfortable in the pocket in the upcoming 49ers-Panthers clash. 

"I've noticed he's not as mobile as I thought he would be," Brooks said. "He likes to throw the ball.

"He doesn't look to run. He looks to get the yards. I'm not saying he can't run. I'm not saying he can't make guys miss. But he looks to pass the ball. So when you're rushing him, you know you have to get to him before he passes the ball."

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