Ahmad Brooks earns his way back

687422.jpg

Ahmad Brooks earns his way back

Ahmad Brooks has talent. But early in his career, bad decisions kept him from reaching his potential. As a sophomore at the University of Virginia, Brooks was one of three finalists for the prestigious Butkus Award, an honor granted to college footballs best linebacker. A season later, coaches kicked him off the team. His college career done, Brooks entered the NFLs supplemental draft. Cincinnati took him in the third round. But in his two seasons with the Bengals, Brooks drew more attention for a womans accusation that he hit her than for anything he did on the field. The Bengals released him before the 2008 season.
I went through some adversity, Brooks said. I guess Im like a walking example right now as far as that.But Brooks self-destructive ways are in the past. In his four years with the 49ers he has only had to deal with the trouble of injuries. Brooks says, no doubt, hes matured. He is two weeks away from turning 28, was recently baptized and after receiving a new six-year, 44.5 million contract, Brooks wants to make sure his experience serves as an example to kids.
RELATED: 49ers show confidence in Brooks with lucrative deal
Not to give up on your dream. Not to give up regardless of whats going on in your life, Brooks explained to me a day after his new deal was announced. When you wake up in the morning and you got a new day, a fresh start to be productive, better yourself as a person and be making the right decisions.
Brooks plans to tell kids his story and message at camps and wherever else he can. He never started more than one game in his first three years with the 49ers. But when Jim Harbaugh became the head coach, Brooks says he looked at it as yet another chance for that fresh start, that chance to become a better player.RELATED: 49ers announce six-year extension for Ahmad Brooks
"They may have heard of me," Brooks explained, "and seen me on film, but it was my chance to earn a starting position."He didnt waste his opportunity. By the end of training camp, Brooks was the starting outside linebacker. He started all 16 regular season games in 2011 and became an every down player for the first time in his career setting career highs in tackles and sacks. Along the way, he also earned much more.
RELATED: Ahmad Brooks career stats 2011 game logs splits
They believe in me, believe in me as a player, Brooks said of the coaches and what his new contract means to him. I thought it was going to be a five year deal. But when I looked at the contract it said six, but it had extra base salary on there, so I was happy with the deal.Brooks is mostly happy that the length of his deal should allow him to retire with the 49ers. But happy does not mean satisfied. Brooks is staying in the Bay Area for the first time this offseason, working out with weight room regulars Justin Smith and Ray McDonald at the team facility. He views the 2011 season as just a start of what kind of player he can be, especially when it comes to rushing the passer.Because Aldon Smith was making so many sacks, and I was just so close to getting there, and I was like Dang! He beat me to the punch, Brooks said laughing. I want to get better at that.There is no reason to believe he won't.

Tom Rathman to be inducted into 49ers Hall of Fame

Tom Rathman to be inducted into 49ers Hall of Fame

Former 49ers fullback Tom Rathman, who was not retained this season on Kyle Shanahan’s coaching staff, will be coming back to the organization in a permanent fashion.

Rathman, 54, who spent a total of 23 seasons as a player and coach, will be inducted into the 49ers Hall of Fame, CEO Jed York announced on Tuesday.

“Tom Rathman embodies everything this organization wants in its players, coaches and staff,” York said in a statement. “Throughout his more than two decades with our team, Tom set a tone for the 49ers both on and off the field. As a player, he was selfless, hard-working and dedicated to bringing his best every single day. Tom coached very much the same way.

"It was his mission to help every man he coached realize his full potential, as both a player and a man. Tom is family and we are so thrilled to induct him into the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame, where he will take his place among the all-time greats in our team’s history.”

Rathman discussed having a role on the 49ers’ coaching staff after the hiring of Shanahan. But Shanahan had already promised the position of running backs coach to Bobby Turner.

“It was all positive,” said Rathman told NBC Sports Bay Area in February. “I have no hard feelings. It’s just the nature of the business. Everybody just has to understand that. In pro football, coaches get fired and new guys come in and they bring their guys. I totally understand it. I don’t have a problem with it. Being in the business for 28 years, playing and coaching, you understand what it is. You can never take anything for granted.”

Rathman played for the 49ers from 1986 to ’93. He was a starter on two Super Bowl-winning teams and seven NFC West champions. Used mostly as a lead-blocker for Roger Craig, Rathman’s best season came in 1989, when he caught 73 passes for 616 yards.

After his playing career concluded with the Los Angeles Rams in 1994, Rathman entered into a career in coaching. He coached under Steve Mariucci from 1997 to 2002. He returned to coach with the 49ers in 2009, serving on the coaching staffs of head coaches Mike Singletary, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly.

“I’ve always considered myself a 49er and I always will consider myself a 49er," Rathman said in a statement. "I’ll take that brand with me wherever I go because that’s who I am. It feels great to be with the guys who are already in the 49ers Hall of Fame. Dating back to Joe Perry, it’s an honor to be associated with the likes of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig and Dwight Clark.

"That’s a lot of history right there. To be able to say that you’re in a fraternity with those guys so to speak, the 49ers Hall of Fame fraternity, says volumes. It’s pretty special.”

49ers draft board consists of nearly 200 prospects

49ers draft board consists of nearly 200 prospects

The 49ers new draft grading system is inspired by the New England Patriots, but their draft menu consists of a lot more options.

“We’ve got just under 200 players on our draft board, that we see as draftable players on our board,” 49ers general manager John Lynch told reporters Monday at team headquarters in Santa Clara.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time in here and it was needed this year because I had a lot of catch-up to do. I can tell you that just (Sunday) night I finally got to the point, I always knew as a player like, ‘OK. I’m ready.’ That moment was (Sunday) for me where I said, ‘OK. I’m ready. I’m ready to go on this thing.’ That’s a good feeling.”

The 49ers have 10 draft picks scheduled for the three-day draft, including the No. 2 overall selection. With 73 players under contract, the 49ers figure to add approximately 17 rookies through the draft and as free agents. The NFL's seven-round draft will result in 253 players being selected.

Lynch was hired out of the FOX broadcast booth a week before the Super Bowl. The following week, Lynch assembled all of the team’s scouts for meetings in Santa Clara.

“When we first brought scouts in right after the Super Bowl we were kind of working off the old grading system,” Lynch said. “But what helped was the grading system that they use in Denver, which kind of derived from one that was developed in New England.”

One of Lynch’s first hires was former Broncos college scouting director Adam Peters as 49ers vice president of player personnel. New coach Kyle Shanahan was also familiar with the system because, like Peters, Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff worked in the Patriots’ scouting department.

“In these last three weeks of draft meetings we moved over to that grading scale,” Lynch said.

“I’ve always been someone who thinks you should listen to multiple opinions and we’ve been very collaborative. I believe in strong opinions. Someone once told me, ‘Strong opinions, weakly held.’ So are you open to different thoughts and someone makes you think? But ultimately someone’s got to make decisions.”

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio recently told Boston-area reporters that New England's draft board consists of only 50 to 75 players who fit as draft picks for their team. The Patriots have seven scheduled draft picks but none in the first two rounds.

"I would say it varies year to year, but I would say our draft board is smaller than most," Caserio said. "We are trying to find players that we feel comfortable with on all levels that we would actually draft -- not that are going to get drafted.

"It's players that we would draft, that we would actually feel comfortable with in our program in some capacity."

49ERS 2017 DRAFT PICKS
1. First round: No. 2 overall
2. Second round: No. 34 overall
3. Third round: No. 66 overall
4. Fourth round: No. 109 overall
5. Fourth round: No. 143 overall (compensatory)
6. Fifth round: No. 146 overall
7. Fifth round: No. 161 (pick acquired from Washington in 2015 trade for TE Derek Carrier)
8. Sixth round: No. 198 overall (from Baltimore in trade with C Jeremy Zuttah for No. 186)
9. Sixth round: No. 202 overall (pick acquired from Denver in 2015 trade for TE Vernon Davis)
10. Seventh round: No. 219 overall (pick acquired from Cleveland in 2015 trade for Andy Lee)