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SANTA CLARA -- One of the more intriguing aspects of covering a professional football player's career is being there when he gets it, the time he comes to understand exactly what is required for him to be successful at the NFL level.For some, the realization comes within the first two or three years in the league. Others take a few years more. For many, it doesn't come at all.When David Carr was with the 49ers, he told me he thought he knew how to prepare as an NFL quarterback. He believed he was doing everything necessary to be ready for a season. That realization came when he joined the New York Giants. Working with Eli Manning, Carr learned all that his position truly demanded. But by then, Carr said, it was too late. He was a seven-year veteran at the time and his starting opportunities were gone.Like Carr, Ahmad Brooks finally "got it" entering his seventh year in the league."I feel more of a professional now," Brooks said. "And once you get into the NFL you (don't) understand everything it takes to be a professional. I think I learned that over the course of years." What's unique about the 49ers outside linebacker's experience, is that his awareness came together after the best year of he career and after he signed a six year, 37 million contract extension with the team in February.Any off-field issues from early in Brooks' career have remained in the past. But he's made a few key changes over just the last few months. Gone from his diet are his favorite three-course meals home cooked by his mom. He avoided the temptation of her tasty dishes by spending his first offseason at the team facility rather than at his Virginia home. "You can get caught up in being complacent, just going home and not doing anything," Brooks said.Brooks replaced complacency with "initiative," his word, and decided to be with the teammates whom he felt were strong leaders. That included following the intense work out routines of defensive linemen Justin Smith and Ray McDonald and linebacker Tavares Gooden."I feel a lot more in shape on the field play to play just running to the ball. Feeling a little more swift out there," Brooks said.RELATED: Ahmad Brooks career stats 2011 game logs News
Brooks says his bench and squat are up from last season, as is his weight, 5 pounds to 270. But his body fat is down, to 16 percent, he estimates."The best shape of my life," Brooks said, "I dont necessarily think so, but my NFL career, yeah."Vic Fangio certainly hopes so. The defensive coordinator has made it clear he expects a big season from Brooks and believes he can bring more to the 49ers pass rush.The difference for Brooks this year, he believes he can, too.
PHOENIX – The 49ers had a recent visit with Tampa Bay free-agent defensive end Jacquies Smith, general manager John Lynch confirmed on Sunday.
Smith, 27, sustained a torn right ACL in the Buccaneers’ season opener in September while running down the field on punt coverage against the Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers gave Smith a physical during his visit to Santa Clara. The club has yet to make a contract offer, Lynch said.
"We wanted to get him checked out medically, and we’ll see," Lynch said at the NFL owners meetings.
Smith (6-foot-2, 260 pounds) recorded 6.5 sacks in 2014 and seven sacks in 2015 for the Buccaneers.
After going undrafted in 2012 out of Missouri, Smith signed with Miami. He spent time with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League before landing on the New York Jets’ practice squad. Smith worked his way into the Buccaneers’ defensive-line rotation in ’14 after being claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Bills.
The Buccaneers gave Smith the low tender of $1.797 million as a restricted free agent. Any team can sign Smith to an offer sheet. Tampa Bay would have the right of first refusal but would get no compensation if the team chooses not to match the contract.
With 71 players under contract, the 49ers have $74.5 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association.
Former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman/defensive end Clay Matthews Sr. passed away on Thursday, March 23rd at the age of 88.
Matthews originally entered the NFL as a 25th round (247th overall) draft choice by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1949 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with San Francisco (1950, 1953-55), appearing in 45 games and registering one interception. After spending his rookie season of 1950 with the 49ers, he went on to spend two years (1951-52) in the United States Army where he served in the Korean War.
A native of Charleston, SC, Matthews attended Georgia Tech where he played guard, tackle and end while earning All-Southeastern Conference honors in 1948. In 1949, Matthews was the All-Southeastern Conference heavyweight wrestling and boxing champion at Georgia Tech.
Matthews was the first of three generations to play in the National Football League. His two oldest sons, Bruce and Clay Jr., each spent 19 seasons in the NFL. Originally selected by the Houston Oilers in the first round (9th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft, Bruce was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 after 14 Pro Bowl and seven First-Team All-Pro selections. Clay Jr. was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1st round (12th overall) in the 1978 draft and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.
Three of Bruce’s sons, Jake, Kevin and Mike, and two of Clay Jr.’s sons, Clay III and Casey, either have spent time or currently play in the NFL. Clay III is currently a member of the Green Bay Packers and a six-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker while Jake is currently an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons after being selected in the first round (6th overall) by the team in 2014.
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