Over the next week, 49ers.com will be revealing the top 10 plays of the team's 2013 season. Each of the plays, which were voted on and ranked by 49ers Studios staff, will feature a highlight video. We continue the countdown at No. 6...
The first play of the second quarter of the Jan. 12 NFC Divisional round playoff game.
Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
Ahmad Brooks' tackle to secure the first of two 49ers goal-line stands in the first half, this one on 4th-and-1 and the one-yard line.
After convincing his Carolina coach, Ron Rivera, to go for six points after a failed Mike Tolbert run on third down, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton rushed between his center and guard, where Brooks, manning the middle linebacker spot, was waiting for him.
...was this play so important? San Francisco's offense regained possession, keeping its early 6-0 edge intact. It could also be argued that a tone was set for the rest of the game. Brooks and Co. would hold Carolina to 93 yards in the ground game, 39 of which were credited to running backs and wide receivers.
...did Brooks do it? First of all, notice that the veteran outside linebacker slid into the middle 'backer position (where he played collegiately) as part of coordinator Vic Fangio's unscouted 5-3 defensive front. Secondly, Fangio had instructed Brooks to watch for Newton's sneaks at the goal line; that explained his embarrasing yet harmless offside penalty in the second quarter. Then there's Brooks' sheer size and athleticism. These traits, in addition to his positioning, helped him accrue 2.5 sacks in this game, and a team-high-tying 8.5 for the regular season. One big play, yes, but Brooks made a lot of them in 2013.