This was supposed to be the best offseason of Ahmad Brooks’ five-year NFL career. Career-wise, that statement held true to form, but it was not the case on a personal level. All it took was one devastating tragedy to remind Brooks that there’s more to life than just the game of football.
When the 49ers outside linebacker entered free agency this offseason as a restricted free agent, he was optimistic about signing a contract that would give him the stability that every NFL player seeks. Instead of finding that comfort right away, Brooks found out his father Perry had passed away on the first of March.
“It’s my father man, my dad, for 26 years he raised me, from the time I was a little boy until now. With him passing away, I was just heartbroken,” Brooks said after a recent workout at team headquarters.
Perry, 55, was no stranger to the NFL himself. He played eight seasons with the Washington Redskins and won two Super Bowl rings. He was also extremely influential in Ahmad’s football career, dedicating a lot of time to see his son play.
With his father’s legacy and influence still firmly planted in his mind, Ahmad has chosen to dedicate his career in the memory of his father.
“He’ll always be in my heart. He’ll always be in my memory. I know this is what he’d want me to do.”
As difficult as it was for Brooks to say goodbye to his father, he decided to reunite with his other family nearly a month later, by signing a two-year contract to remain with the team that signed him before the start of the 2008 season.
“It’s always good to see your teammates,” Brooks said. “This is my family. This is my home. This is where I want to be. This is where I’d like to end my career, to tell you the truth. I’d rather be here than anywhere else. California is beautiful weather, we have a great coaching staff, a great organization and we have great players. Everything is first-class, and I like that.”
Now that the free agency period is over, a relief for Brooks, the 6-foot-3, 259-pound pass rush specialist can focus on building off his 2009 season in which he posted a career-high six sacks.
“Signing last week gives me a chance to actually settle in and just get back to work,” Brooks said. “When you’re in the free agency market, you really don’t know where you’re going to be or for how long. I’m just thankful that I was able to sign a two-year contract and keep building on what we accomplished last year.”
With Perry’s spirit infused in what has already proven to be a relentless pass rusher, Ahmad will continue to be a valuable asset to the 49ers defense.
It just might be his best season on the field yet.
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Speaking on a conference call with national football writers on Wednesday, NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi answered a number of questions on the different draft scenarios for NFL teams. Lombardi was a great source of information as he has spent over 22 years in the league working in various personnel departments. Of the five clubs he’s worked for, Lombardi spent time with the 49ers in the 80s working under legendary Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh.
Twenty minutes into the call, Lombardi shared this fascinating story in how Jerry Rice became the No. 16 overall selection in the 1985 NFL Draft:
“I was fortunate enough to be in the draft room when we selected (Jerry). Coach Walsh called me in his office about three months before the draft. Actually, back in November, we were playing the Houston Oilers in Houston and he called me to his hotel suite on the Saturday night before the game and I thought I was in trouble which wouldn’t be out of the norm. He called me in his room and said, ‘Who is this kid on the TV-set I’m watching? He’s incredible! Can you get me every tape on this guy? And I said, ‘Sure coach, that’s Jerry Rice. I’ll see what I can do.’
“And at this time, we were on 16-milimeter tape which was expensive and hard to find, especially for the smaller schools, they held on to those tapes like gold. So I went back to San Francisco, got three tapes and gave them to Coach Walsh. He watched them and I had to send them back out. It took a lot of nerve for me to ask him questions, my hands still sweat when I think of him. I said, ‘Coach, I have to send those tapes back out, would you mind if I get them off your desk? And he said, ‘Sure, go up and get them, you can send them out.’ So I went up there and he had a little note attached to them, and in his left-handed handwriting he had, ‘John Jefferson… with speed.’ That’s how he described Jerry Rice.
“When we got into the draft, we had plans to possibly select Eddie Brown. We thought he’d be the guy who would come to us. With Jerry, we moved up from 28 to 16. We traded our first, second and third-round picks to the New England Patriots and we ended up getting their first and third-round picks for that trade. When we got to 16 we thought we’d get at least one of the receivers and maybe we’d get Brown. Then, we were on the phone with the Cincinnati Bengals trying to work out a trade with them, and they decided to take Brown. Coach handed me the phone and said, ‘Don’t worry about it; we’ll just pick Jerry Rice.’
“What we had to do was sweat out the Kansas City Chiefs who were picking at 15, and they ended up picking Ethan Horton, the running back from North Carolina. Then we picked Jerry. We went out to practice that following week for our first minicamp and Dwight Clark came off the field and said, ‘Smooth and rich.’ Those were his comments and I think he’s been proven correct.”
Tags: Bill Walsh, Dwight Clark, Jerry Rice
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The 49ers first pair of pad-less practices in 2010, otherwise known as organized team activities (OTAs) came and went earlier in the week at an efficient pace. But that didn’t stop veterans like Frank Gore and Vernon Davis from sticking around 49ers headquarters to get in quality work with their teammates and coaches in the 49ers offseason conditioning program.
Many of the 49ers who reside on the East Coast train close to home, opting to spend time with family and work out with personal trainers. But with the first OTA practice officially marking the start of a new season, several of the team’s key players remained in town to continue working with teammates and building camaraderie.
“We had two OTA practices, they went pretty well. It’s the same offense, so we don’t have to start over again,” Gore said to TV49 earlier in the week. “We can clean up all the mistakes we had last year and move forward.”
Head strength and conditioning coach Duane Carlisle put the team’s two-time Pro Bowl back and others through a couple of extensive workouts on the practice field and in the weight room, adding to what has already been a very successful offseason program.
“The last couple of weeks have gone really well for us,” Carlisle said. “Guys have improved their body composition, you can see guys are getting leaner, stronger and they’re getting in better condition, which is the goal of the first four weeks of training.”
In a normal week of Carlisle’s offseason conditioning program the players rotate from weight room training to field training. But with OTA practices starting earlier in the week, Carlisle’s program was slightly adjusted.
“The practice replaces the movement training and the guys still do their extensive lifts,” Carlisle explained. “We don’t modify the lifts.”
The strength coach doesn’t have to push the players to get into weight training after OTA practices, because “they know the drill.”
“They come in, they’re ready to work, they put their hard hats on and they go,” Carlisle said. “That’s the great thing about our guys. We’re here to coach them and make sure they’re doing everything right technically, but in terms of the effort, they bring it all the time.”
In the same way Carlisle appreciates the effort from his players, his pupils hold a high regard for the instruction they receive in the 49ers offseason program.
“He’s a good strength coach,” Gore said. “He changes things a lot. We had a good workout, ran 20, 100’s. Coach Carlisle will push you, he wants the best for you and he’s doing a great job in the weight room.”
The Miami native does his offseason workouts close to home, but was pleased to be re-united with his other “family” this past week by having two productive practices and extra time in the weight room.
“I was happy to get back and see those guys,” Gore said. “When you’re away for awhile then you come back, you look forward to be back with your family out here. We’re trying to get better. I was happy to get back with Vernon, Moran (Norris), (Michael) Crabtree, Josh (Morgan), Delanie (Walker), all my offensive guys, my offensive buddies. We’re trying to having a good year.”
Morgan agreed with the sentiments of his starting running back and was encouraged to see all of the offensive guys get in a few more quality workouts in together before a few days off for Easter break.
“We’re about to put on a show for 2010,” Morgan said. “We’re ready. We’re in here working. Everybody’s feeling the excitement and we’re just ready to go work for the Super Bowl. All of us are trying to be great, all of us. We’re going to do whatever it takes.”
Davis said being around for the rest of the week has allowed him to spend time with new teammates and new coaches. It’s also allowed him to observe the young players who have made strides this offseason.
Davis added that second-year running back Glen Coffee and third-year safety Reggie Smith are the ones who have caught his eye immediately. Davis said the two have improved from seeing what the veteran players have done ahead of them and now they’re following in their footsteps.
As for his own offseason motives, Davis is looking to work on ball skills.
The team will have the first two days of next week off thanks to Carlisle allowing players to spend Easter weekend with their families. They’ll return on Wednesday to resume the fourth week of the 49ers offseason conditioning program.
“We move into our last week of training, and specificity becomes the most important factor. The guys on the field are doing position-specific drills,” Carlisle said. “Inside, the focus goes from a strength base to improving strength and power. It shifts from a general approach to a specific approach and the intensity of the workouts go up both outside and in the weight room.
Check out some screen grabs from inside the 49ers weight room and our sights and sounds video from the offseason conditioning program.
Tw0-time Pro Bowl RB Frank Gore
Tags: Duane Carlisle, Frank Gore, Josh Morgan, Vernon Davis
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The field of over 400 women has been narrowed down to the final 70, all with hopes of becoming a member of the 2010 world-famous 49ers Gold Rush presented by Coors Light. All the ladies have gone through two rounds of preliminary auditions on Sunday, a practice on Monday and interviews Wednesday night. Tonight, they will all be asked to perform their routine one more time in addition to a dance they choreographed themselves.
Stay tuned to the blog all throughout the evening for photos.
The judges just had their meeting to go over how the scoring process will work and what they will be looking for when ultimately selecting the squad.
“As a judge, I’m looking for someone who is just going to wow the fans at the stadium,” said Gold Rush director Erin Olmstead. “We want someone who is going to bring some extra energy to their performance. They’ve all been practicing really hard. It’s going to be tough to pull out the standouts, but that’s my job tonight.”
Even the veterans from previous squads have to audition as well and even though they’ve been through this process before, it doesn’t minimize the nerves. Their experience does help them though during the routine that they had to choreograph on their own.
“I’m using some of my old stuff (from past routines),” Johanna said, a former Gold Rush member who had to take last year off. “I have to get that in there. The funny thing is that when you practice it over and over, it automatically changes because you want to put so much into it. Hopefully it come out well.”
Be the first to find out who made the 2010 Gold Rush on Monday right here on 49ers.com.
All photos are courtesy of David Gonzales.
FIRST ROUND (GROUP)
SECOND ROUND (INDIVIDUAL)
Tags: gold rush
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