Ahmad Brooks’ father used to always tell him, “Play hard, play smart.” That’s good advice – so much so that Brooks honors his father, who passed away in 2010, by wearing a bracelet with those words.
Brooks followed both pieces of his father’s advice on Thursday, finished with seven tackles and 1.5 sacks in helping the 49ers to a 35-11 win over the Rams in St. Louis.
“I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team win,” the linebacker said on Ferrall on the Bench.
Brooks has been doing that all season. He had 17 tackles and a sack in his previous two games, but the 49ers lost both – 29-3 at Seattle and 27-7 against Indianapolis.
“These past two weeks, we kind of slipped off a little bit,” Brooks said, “and a lot of it has to go towards the defense because we let the opponents get more points than we usually allow them to get. So we just wanted to get back to fundamentals and get back to the element that got us to the playoffs (these last few years), and (the win over St. Louis) was a step forward.”
The 49ers, who won last year with a rugged rushing attack, carried 40 times for 219 yards on Thursday. Frank Gore turned half of those carries into 153 yards and a touchdown, as San Francisco turned an early 3-0 deficit into a 28-3 lead.
“When you have an X on your chest, everybody’s going to give you their best game,” Brooks said. “They’re going to give you all they got every game, and we should expect that from all our opponents. We’ve just got to understand that. Once we come together as a unit, then we’ll be okay. Like I said, (beating St. Louis) was a forward step for us all and hopefully we capitalize next week against the Houston Texans.”
Brooks said the 49ers’ locker room was stoic before Thursday’s game. Everybody was quiet; no one was horsing around; no one was really even talking.
“Everybody was focused on the game,” Brooks said. “I hope those two losses clicked for us. This game is just one game. Hopefully we come out next week and get another win and just keep getting wins under our belt.
“But I think we learned that we just can’t come out there and play lackadaisical. I think we have to come out there and be prepared to win. How we won last year, we won because we were hungry. We’ve got to keep that hunger, we’ve got to keep that fight in us and not back down. It’s not always going to be peaches and cream. The score’s not always going to go our way, the officials are not always going to call the ball our way, penalties might occur, injuries might happen – whatever the case may be. But we’ve got to fight through that adversity and overcome all of that. As long as we keep our hunger, we’ll be fine.”
With upcoming games against the Texans, Cardinals, Titans, Jaguars and Panthers, the 49ers (2-2) may very well be 6-2 heading into a Nov. 10 showdown with the 3-0 Saints in New Orleans.
“Time will tell,” Brooks said. “Hopefully everybody prepares like we have been. Just go out there and play hard, play smart.”