SANTA CLARA, Calif. - 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has spoken to Ahmad Brooks, he said on Monday.
Brooks, 30, reportedly took himself out of Sunday's 16-10 win over the Giants after being unhappy with being apart of the rotation at outside linebacker with Aldon Smith back from his nine-game suspension.
"We’ve addressed it and had those conversations. Onward,” Harbaugh said.
Once Smith was inserted into the game in nickel situations in the second quarter Sunday, Brooks did not play another down. It forced Smith to play base formations opposite impressive rookie Aaron Lynch.
Lynch notched his third sack in his last four games and has seen the most action of his young career in the last two games, playing a combined 150 snaps. He leads the 49ers with 26 quarterback hurries after leapfrogging Corey Lemonier on the depth chart following Week 4's win over the Eagles.
Smith wound up playing 54 snaps against the Giants and finished second behind Lynch with six hurries and came close to sacking Eli Manning on New York's final drive. The 49ers had their best pass rushing game of the season, pressuring Manning on 51 percent of his drop backs, according to Pro Football Focus. Their previous season high was 39 percent in Oct. 23's loss to the Rams.
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"It felt real good. It was exciting. Like you’re first day of school," Smith said.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said during the week he thought Smith looked a little rusty after being unable to practice for the season's first 2 1/2 months. But Smith looked much better in his return to the field this year than when he came back to play just 12 snaps when returning from his five-game leave in 2013.
"It’s just like anything. At first, you’re not going to be as good...but as the game goes on, it just gets better and better," Smith said. "And I got better and better as the game went on."
Given the effectiveness of Lynch and Smith, Brooks' days with the 49ers could be numbered. He's slated to be the 49ers' third-largest cap number in 2015, costing roughly $9 million.
San Francisco was reportedly shopping Brooks at last month's trading deadline, which would be an obvious source of consternation for the eight-year veteran who leads the team with four sacks. And having his role lessened a week after forcing a critical fumble in overtime against the Saints also could have contributed.
But electing not to play, if that was the case, would not help Brooks' image in the eyes of other teams should he be released following the season. His best chance at maximizing his future value comes by being on the field, not constraining himself to the sideline.