Brooks in, Thomas out; Niners sign nine to PS

The 49ers had a lot of interest in Ahmad Brooks when the brawny linebacker came out college in the 2006 supplemental draft. The team never lost interest, and on Sunday, Brooks became a 49er when the team picked him up off waivers from the Cincinnati Bengals. The 49ers waived linebacker Dontarrious Thomas to make room on the roster for Brooks, and also signed six players to their practice squad.

Though he made it through the initial 53-man roster cutdown Saturday, the 49ers were not happy with the performance of Thomas, a free agent whom they signed on March 3 to a two-year, $1.75 million contract that included a $400,000 signing bonus.

Thomas was brought in to challenge for a starting position at inside linebacker and help on special teams, but he proved to be an inconsistent player who ended up as a backup to Patrick Willis on the team's depth chart. Thomas did not play well while starting in place of Willis in Friday's exhibition finale. He missed several tackles and also was flagged for pass interference during San Diego's game-opening touchdown drive.

Brooks is expected to be an upgrade and will vie for playing time at inside linebacker with Willis, Jeff Ulbrich and Takeo Spikes while also providing quality depth behind that trio.

When Brooks was coming out of college early, 49ers officials indicated they believed Brooks had first-round talent, though he came into the pro ranks with some personal baggage after being dismissed from the team at the University of Virginia following the 2005 season.

The 49ers were set to pull the trigger on Brooks at the top of the fourth round in the supplemental draft the next summer, but Cincinnati grabbed him with a third-round pick instead. He made an immediate impact as a rookie, playing in 11 games and finishing with 46 tackles, one sack and two passes defensed.

Brooks started the season opener last year and had six tackles, but he tore a groin muscle the next week and was placed on injured reserve. He was projected as a starter at middle linebacker for the Bengals entering training camp this summer, but was moved to the strong side, where he lost out in a battle for the starting role to second-year veteran Rashad Jeanty.

Th 49ers also signed six players back to their practice squad who were released by the team during Saturday's roster cutdown.

Running back Thomas Clayton, defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison, linebacker Larry Grant, wide receiver Dominque Zeigler, defensive end Louis Holmes and tight end J.J. Finley will be joined on the practice squad by offensive lineman Ramiro Pruneda, who will spend the season on San Francisco's developmental roster as part of the NFL's international practice squad program.

The 49ers filled the final two positions on their practice squad Monday when they brought back offensive tackle Joe Toledo, who had been waived during Saturday's final cutdown, and also signed wide receiver Chris Hannon.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Hannon went to camp with the Carolina Panthers this summmer before being waived. Hannon originally joined the Kansas City Chiefs as a rookie free agent out of Tennessee in 2006. He spent 2006 on the Chiefs practice squad and last season on the Carolina practice squad.


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