When Aaron Lynch was served with a four-game suspension by the NFL, beginning with the start of the 2016 regular season, 49ers outside linebackers coach Jason Tarver said he's confident other players will step up to fill the void.
While it appears Eli Harold is on track to start at Lynch’s spot in the season opener, veteran Ahmad Brooks on the other side can ease the pain by getting off to a good start especially as a pass rusher.
And, so far, it looks as if Brooks is doing just that.
The 32-year-old, nine-year NFL linebacker – often rumored to be on the chopping block in recent years – doesn’t seem to have lost a step.
Earlier this week, Tarver said Brooks has been focused and efficient.
“As long as Ahmad’s doing his job one play at a time, he’s going to be in great shape,” Tarver told the media. “That’s where his mindset is right now. Proud of him, that’s what he’s doing, so we want him continuing on that path.”
Brooks has been with the 49ers since 2009 and been a starter at outside linebacker since 2011. In 14 games last season he tied for the team lead (with Lynch) in sacks with 6½. This offseason, he’s becoming comfortable with the new defensive scheme put in place by coordinator Jim O’Neil.
In Sunday night’s exhibition opener vs. the Houston Texans, Brooks was in on two tackles and had a sack in limited action.
“Ahmad’s established himself as a starter here for a long time,” general manager Trent Baalke told reporters Wednesday in Denver after a 49ers-Broncos joint practice. “He’s still capable of playing at a high level. You saw that the other night against the Texans. He’s doing an awfully good job of picking up the new scheme.”
Added Balke: “(He) still has a lot of gas left in the tank.”
The 49ers will play the Broncos in an exhibition game Saturday night in Denver.