SANTA CLARA, Calif. - When NaVorro Bowman spoke earlier this week about the 49ers lacking leadership in his absence along with that of Patrick Willis, Ahmad Brooks' recent transgressions might have been coming to mind.
"It’s just when you used to come to work and see a type of behavior, whether it’s practice or the meeting rooms, everyone follows. And we lost that a little bit this year, that’s obvious," Bowman said.
Brooks was benched in Sunday's loss to the Raiders for the second time this season after being taken out of Nov. 16's win over New York in the first half after exchanging words with defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. But Brooks figures to be back this week.
Coordinator Vic Fangio revealed Thursday that Brooks not only missed a meeting Tuesday of last week, but he arrived 20 minutes late for a meeting Wednesday leading up to the game in Oakland.
“It was difficult to do, but it was an easy decision," Fangio said. "...on top of what happened in New York, it was just time to not start him and take drastic measures. Told him he wouldn’t start on Wednesday. He knew that. And last week was not a good week of practice for him after that happened, so, that’s when I basically decided that he wouldn’t play very much unless we needed him.”
Fangio said he expects Brooks, tied with the team lead with five sacks, to be back in the rotation at outside linebacker when the 49ers travel to Seattle Sunday.
Coming into last week's loss, Brooks had made 76 straight starts since becoming a starter when Fangio took control of the defense in 2011. The 49ers struggled to get to quarterback Derek Carr Sunday, registering just one sack coming late after the game had been decided.
Without Brooks, Carr led impressive, back-to-back 80-yard scoring drives in the second half resulting in an 11-point win for the 11-loss Raiders. He was pressured on just seven of his 28 drop backs, according to Pro Football Focus.
“We didn’t have a good day rushing as a unit," Fangio said. "We had some good rushes. The ball got out there before we could get there. Overall, it was not a good day pass rushing for us. And it was across the board, wasn’t just one guy. Everybody had some that were good, but we didn’t have enough together. Give the Raiders credit. They pass blocked us.”
The Raiders often brought in an extra offensive lineman to help protect Carr against San Francisco's typically good pass rush featuring Aldon Smith and Aaron Lynch on the outside edges in passing downs. But rain leading into the game provided a slow track for the 49ers to work with.
"I would say on that kind of playing surface, it’s hard to get a good get-off and all that," Dan Skuta said. "They were keeping a lot of guys in certain situations, making sure we don’t get a free rush on their guys. They did a good job from a scheme standpoint of keeping extra guys in. And when we did get our one-on-ones, we got to take advantage."
With the Seahawks looming Sunday for the second time in three weeks, keeping Russell Wilson inside the pocket by setting the edge will be critical if San Francisco is going to come away with the upset and extend their season.
The last time the 49ers played in Seattle in January's NFC title game, Brooks was second on the team with four pressures, including three hits on Wilson and one QB hurry.