After two injury- and incident-plagued seasons in Cincinnati, he becomes a pass-rushing force

  • Ahmad Brooks flies in to help Justin Smith and Takeo Spikes sack Rams quarterback Kyle Boller.

PHILADELPHIA ? Success always came easy for Ahmad Brooks, so he was shocked and confused when he received word of his own failure.

?I never once thought I?d get cut,? Brooks said. ?I?ve always been one of the best players on my team. So having that feeling, I was sad.?

Brooks said he did not shed tears when he learned the Cincinnati Bengals had released him before the start of the 2008 season. But he did experience a visceral reaction from the rejection.

?I felt like crying,? Brooks said. ?It was like a girl just broke up with you in middle school ... heartbroken.?

The 49ers quickly grabbed Brooks on the rebound. Now, he?s an important part of the team?s defense as the 49ers look to remain in the NFC playoff picture today against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The 49ers had their eyes on Brooks from the time he entered the NFL supplemental draft in 2006 after then-Virginia coach Al Groh kicked him off the team that spring ? and it was too late for him to declare for the regular April draft.

The 49ers were prepared to select Brooks, but the Bengals grabbed him first.

After two injury-plagued seasons and some off-field issues ? including an accusation that he punched a woman in the face ? the Bengals gave up on Brooks.

?There are some things I could?ve done better,? Brooks said. ?I was young. Still am young (25), but I was learning. I know now what not to do. It was a devastating feeling, but I?m here. I?m happy. And I?m willing to continue to work.?

Brooks remained on the 49ers? roster all of last season and not once got into a game. Now he?s getting his chance, and he is taking advantage of the opportunity.

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