Eight days before the deadline for cutting the roster to 53 players, the 49ers decided to move on from linebacker Ahmad Brooks. Coach Kyle Shanahan explained to reporters on Friday the reasoning behind the move.
“Doing it right now is more just in the best interest for Ahmad,” Shanahan said. “It’s a real tough decision. [General Manager] John [Lynch] and I had gone back and forth with it the last few days. Once we really came to the conclusion he wasn’t going to be a part of our final 53, we weren’t going to keep him around just to let him know [eight] days from now. So, we know there’s a lot of teams that will be interested in him. So we gave him that opportunity to go out and find them. . . .
“Ahmad can still do things. I think everyone knows that. He’s going to help somebody this year. It really comes down to the final 53. . . . It’s really been nothing against Ahmad. It’s how are we going to get 53 guys on this team, the right type of 53 guys?”
Shanahan also praised Brooks for how he handled the situation.
“I talked to Ahmad this morning,” Shanahan said. “Ahmad was great. To tell you the truth it was something that was real hard for me to do. You know, I never knew Ahmad until I got here. I’ve had a lot of respect for him over his career. He’s been great for me since I’ve gotten here. I’ve really enjoyed him as a person. When you have a guy who has meant to this organization, just looking it up, to be third in sacks all-time for the San Francisco 49ers is a pretty big deal. I think there’s a pretty good history here and to be third all-time, it shows what type of career Ahmad has had here. I know some of the defenses he’s been on. . . . [H]e’s played on some real good defenses. So I did think it was a bigger deal than usual. Ahmad handled it like a pro. He was great talking to him and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Complicating the situation was the challenge of assessing not only how players can contribute now, but how they may grow throughout the season to contribute later. It’s a dynamic that applies to players other than Brooks, and to teams beyond the 49ers.
“You think of guys that might not be as good in Week One but you think they’ll be ready in Week Three,”
Shanahan said. “What gives you the best chance to win in Week One and Week Eight and Week 16? You’ve got to play all that into account. It’s rarely as simple as saying it’s the starter versus the backup, versus the third string guy. It has to do with the overall 53. . . . All that goes into account. So when we start to look at the 53 and see some of the guys we’d have to lose by keeping people, that ends up making you lead to that type of decision.”
More decisions surely will be made like that in the coming days, as teams prepare for the first time to make 37 roster moves in one fell swoop.