Ahmad Brooks anchors San Francisco 49ers LBs


With Aldon Smith chasing the single-season sack record and the Patrick Willis-Navorro Bowman dynamic duo headlining the San Francisco 49ers' defense, the fourth member of the Niners' linebacker corps has flown under the national radar.

The Niners coaching staff is working to change that perception this week, hyping outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks as a difference-maker and consummate team player heading into Super Bowl XLVII.

"(Defensive coordinator) Vic Fangio made the comment the other day, 'The smartest thing we did as an organization was pay Ahmad Brooks and keep him as a 49er,' " head coach Jim Harbaugh said, via the San Jose Mercury News. "We would all concur with that."

Signed to a six-year, $44.5 million extension last offseason, Brooks has combined superb run defense with timely blitzes and improved pass coverage to merit a second-team All-Pro selection. Along the way, he's developed a reputation as one of the team's most reliable players in clutch situations.

Brooks' ascension to elite status gives San Francisco the NFL's most daunting 3-4 linebacker corps since Jim Mora's Saints defense thrived behind Pat Swilling, Sam Mills, Vaughn Johnson, and Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson from 1987 to 1992.

Hey diddle diddle, Ray Rice might want to avoid the middle.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.