Brooks: 'I've been clean. I'm alright now'

Ahmad Brooks comes to the 49ers with some baggage, but the third-year linebacker is anxious to get a fresh start with his new team after being unexpectedly released over the weekend by the Cincinnati Bengals. Here, Brooks covers a spectrum of topics, including his off-field problems, in his first interview as a 49er.

Q: So when you got the phone call yesterday, did you have a feeling that the Niners might be calling?
Brooks:
Yeah, I had a feeling. I told my agent right after I got cut and he said, well let me make a phone call and he said that the 49ers had offered a trade for me last week to the Bengals but I guess the Bengals didn't want to take that offer. So I was aware that the 49ers were interested and I was glad once I heard their phone call.

Q: You came out here in 2006 with the team and you had a physical, did you think that they were the team that was going to pick you?
Brooks:
Yeah, I thought the 49ers were going to pick me because I was hearing so much about the 49ers, 49ers, 49ers. I just thought they were going to pick me up, but it didn't go through and it didn't work out the way the organization wanted it to be and I fell to the Bengals.

Q: What was it like for you to get cut over the weekend?
Brooks:
Devastating. You never think it's going to happen to you and once it does, you feel like your heart's broken. You don't really know what to do after that. You don't know if another team is going to call you or not. You always keep faith and believe that somebody is and just take it in stride.

Q: So that first year in Cincinnati, you got in there late after all the offseason stuff and you did make an impact. Did you think that was just going to be the start and your career would flourish from there?
Brooks:
I thought so. Everybody coming to a new environment, a new atmosphere, a new place with a positive attitude. I just felt that I did pretty good my first year. I started four out of the 16 games and I felt I should have been starting all year, but I guess they didn't feel that way. I had a season-ending injury my sophomore year as a Bengal that pretty much affected this year.

Q: Did Cincinnati ever explain to you why they took you out of the starting lineup your first year?
Brooks:
No. They just said that I was a rookie and that I didn't fully understand the full detail of being a middle linebacker or being a starter or the defense in general. That's pretty much it. I thought it wasn't true. It wasn't true at all.

Q: They moved you to the strong-side last year, I was just wondering do you think being on the inside in a 3-4 here is a better fit for you?
Brooks:
Possibly. I mean, I've never played in a 3-4 since college. I did well in college. The scheme is totally different from college I believe, but I'm a middle linebacker. Most definitely. They moved (me to) the SAM linebacker this past spring and I just wasn't comfortable playing it because I never played it in my life. I just always played middle linebacker. Once they moved me back into the middle I felt at home. So being in a 3-4 shouldn't be much different than the plan in a 4-3.

Q: What guys stand out to you?
Brooks:
Well, there's Patrick Willis. I was watching film on him last year. He was a rookie phenom and he's been doing pretty good this year as well. Justin Smith, I played with him in Cincinnati and I know what he brings to the table. It's just pretty much everybody on defense right now. I'm willing to work with them willing to make the defense better.

Q: Where are you on your (torn groin) injury right now?
Brooks:
It's all right. It's still lingering a little bit. I'm still out here practicing. I won't say I'm 100 percent, but I'll say I'm close to it. I just need to keep coming out here and working every day. I just need to get better.

Q: Is this something that you need to rest in order to heal?
Brooks:
That's what I would say, but you really never know. It might be something totally different. I might need a massage or more strengthening in the muscle. I really don't know.

Q: Do you think the police charge had anything to do with your getting waived up by Cincinnati?
Brooks:
I didn't get charged.

Q: You weren't charged?
Brooks:
Well, yeah I was, actually. But I don't want to talk about that. But it probably did have something to do with it, but it really didn't, because I didn't do anything wrong. I was just – made a dumb decision I guess. But it all worked out for the best. I didn't get charged or anything. It's not like I have anything on my record.

Q: Was the case expunged?
Brooks:
It was expunged, yes.

Q: What about your situation at the University of Virginia? How do you look back on that case?
Brooks:
Learning experience. Everybody has to live through the teenage years of life and early 20s. I'm pretty sure a lot of people have done dumb things at that age. It was pretty much a learning experience. I was at that age where I was being looked at by the media. Everybody was telling me: ‘Oh … ." Everybody had an opinion on what I was doing. It was just basically a learning experience.

Q: There were rumors there that you had failed a drug test or two there. Is that correct?
Brooks:
That's correct, yes.

Q: Two? More than one?
Brooks:
About two.

Q: When you came here, was that stuff still talked about upstairs with Mike Nolan?
Brooks:
He mentioned it to me. He told me what he expected out of me. He gave me detailed rules. I'm going to follow them. I've been in the NFL. I've been clean. I'm alright now. I don't have any worries. As long as I'm doing the right thing, I don't have any worries.

Q: You lost a lot of weight before you went into the supplemental draft. Was it important for you not to be labeled a defensive end at that point?
Brooks:
I'm known for playing linebacker. So I didn't want to become a defensive end. That's a whole, totally different game. I had to lose a few pounds. About 20. I had to get down to about 270. So I was about 278. I was in a depressed situation coming out of college. I wasn't happy with the way things were going. I was supposed to be a top draft pick coming out of college and everything's messed up. So I was kind of hard on myself. So I started doing things I shouldn't be doing.

Q: Do you think you have some things to show to coach [Al] Groh at this point?
Brooks:
Yeah, of course. You always want to prove something to yourself, first of all, to your family and to your coaches because they help you get to this point. And you always want them to say, ‘hey, I coached him.' I want to make them proud too.

Q: So, now you're going into a crash course with coach Singletary and this defense. Is it overwhelming?
Brooks:
Not really. It's just new drills. New things we have to learn. New techniques. You just have to practice it until you get it right.


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