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49ers release Ahmad Brooks, continue to get younger

The San Francisco 49ers know they have a long rebuild ahead of themselves. After cycling through two coaches in as many years, the 49ers hired Kyle Shanahan this offseason and believe they have the right man this time around.

Shanahan, who helped the Atlanta Falcons reach their second Super Bowl in franchise history as the coordinator of a top-ranked offense last year, is now challenged with fixing a 49ers name considerably light on talent. Offensively, the patience of Shanahan will be tested, but the defense has young building blocks to work with immediately.

In fact, only outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks was going to be a starter over the age of 30. Was being the key word, with the veteran being released on Friday afternoon. Per NFL.com:

“We would like to thank Ahmad for his nine years of service and contributions to the 49ers,” team general manager John Lynch said in a statement. “In that time, he played a significant role on some formidable defensive units that helped this team achieve great success. We feel good about the depth and competition along our defensive front and believe that by making this decision now it will give Ahmad a head start on exploring his options with other teams. We wish him and his family nothing but the best.”

Brooks, 33, will now try to find a contender, while San Francisco will give his considerable snaps to another team. The 49ers are rich in front seven talent including linebackers Reuben Foster, NaVorro Bowman and Aaron Lynch, and defensive linemen Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas.

San Francisco desperately needs a complete overhaul of the secondary save for saefty Eric Reid, but that will come in time. The 49ers could think of targeting Richard Sherman next offseason should the Seattle Seahawks decide to cut bait. Sherman would be 30 years old and while his best days are behind him, he remains one of the league’s best corners. The fit is also there, with both teams playing similar defensive schemes, and with Sherman being from California and having attended Stanford.

This year, the sledding will be tough for the 49ers. The rest of the NFC West, especially the Arizona Cardinals and Seahawks, is clearly better than them. San Francisco would be lucky to win two games within the division. The rest of the schedule is a little easier with four contests against the AFC South and another quartet versus the NFC East, a talented group but without any overwhelming force.

For the 49ers, this is about preaching patience while letting young players develop and mature. By releasing Brooks, San Francisco is taking another step in the right direction, painful as it may be.

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