Linebacker Ahmad Brooks packed his bags and cleared out of Cincinnati as fast as he possible could when the Bengals released him on Saturday.
"It was real tough, my first time being cut," said Brooks. "It was my first time really being let down and it just hurt. It hurt my feelings because I never saw it coming. I really didn't know what to do, but I just went home. I couldn't stay there, it was a lot of memories."
Needing something to soften the disappointment, Brooks drove the seven hours home to Virginia to see his daughter.
"It's unconditional love, so most definitely it was good to see her," said Brooks.
By Sunday night though, he was on a flight out to California, ready to seize a second chance with the San Francisco 49ers, who claimed his rights from Cincinnati.
"You know that you belong in the NFL and you don't want anybody to tell you that you are not capable of being an NFL player. I think that's what really hurt me the most. I think they know my potential and what I'm capable of doing, so it puts the onus on me to go out there and do it," said Brooks. "This is another opportunity to prove myself, so I'm just going to take the opportunity and move forward and try to make the best out of it."
Brooks' first line of business on Monday morning included putting on his 49ers uniform (he's wearing #55) for the first time and taking the bleachers for the annual team photo.
"It actually felt weird," said Brooks. "It's my first time playing on a team with red colors. It felt weird, red and gold, but it's a new team and I'm glad to be here. I didn't know whether or not I should have a mean mug or smile, so I just kept a straight face for most part."
According to the 49ers most updated depth chart, Brooks has taken Dontarrious Thomas' spot of a backup player to Joe Staley at middle linebacker.
"I think I bring a lot of different assets," said Brooks. "I'm a playmaker I believe. With Patrick Willis already in the inside, I think I'll be a help to him and the rest of the defense – Justin Smith and all of the stars here. I know I'll have to work my way up so I'm pretty sure I'll need to make a name for myself on special teams first. I'm here to do whatever it takes."
Brooks entered the supplemental draft out of the University of VIrginia in 2006. The 49ers brought him in for a physical and a visit at that time, but the linebacker ended up getting drafted by the Bengals in the third round of the supplemental draft in 2006.
Back then, Brooks was coming off two failed drug tests, something that he said was discussed with head coach Mike Nolan.
"He mentioned it to me," said Brooks. "He told me what he expected. He gave me detailed rules and I'm going to follow them. I've been in the NFL and I've been clean. I'm alright now, I don't have any worries. As long as I'm doing the right thing, I don't have anything to worry about."
Brooks was also arrested this spring for a misdemeanor assault.
"I don't really know all of the details, but I know enough of it that we're willing to take this opportunity and see what he can do," said Nolan. "I'll say this, one of the things that's key is, I believe I've said this before and I think needs to be said, is that we have the structure and the manpower and the people in place that can allow us, I guess you can say if that's the right choice of words, to take on someone that we feel with some assistance that we can do the right thing with. That's one of things since I took the job that I think has been extremely important to me, it's been important to our football team and we've been very successful with it. We haven't taken on a whole lot of guys with some history things, but at the same time, the one's that we have, we've been pretty successful with them."
Brooks started five games his rookie year, and then opened the 2007 season with eight tackles, a sack and a forced fumble before suffering a season-ending groin injury.
"It's alright, it's still lingering a little bit, but I'm still out here practicing," said Brooks of the groin injury. "I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent, but I'm closed to it. I just need to keep coming out here and working every day and get better."