SANTA CLARA When a player signs a lucrative, long-term contract, there might be a tendency for him to exhale, relax and enjoy his newfound financial security.
The six-year, $44.5 million deal linebacker Ahmad Brooks signed in the offseason has had the opposite effect, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Saturday.
"He probably had his best offseason he's had in pro football," said Fangio, who coaches the outside linebackers. " I think he's probably in the best shape of his life, at least his NFL life, and we're expecting a big season from him. We'd be disappointed if he doesn't."
In previous offseasons, the one-time Virginia star, who was booted off the team as a junior, would return to his hometown, Woodbridge, Va. When he'd return to Santa Clara in the spring, he'd be in less than tiptop shape.
This year, Brooks hung around Santa Clara all offseason. Not only that, he fell in with the core group of 49ers workout warriors Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Parys Haralson chief among them who would show up every day to train and lift weights. Brooks even augmented that routine by buying a membership at the local 24-Hour Fitness.
"I'd go there and work out for like an hour. Do cardio, do sit-ups and stuff like that," he said. "I took cycling class. I did yoga, Pilates and all of that stuff. It was a different experience. Just riding a bike for an hour. It hurt my butt."
As a result, Brooks enters this season with a more muscular and cut 266-pound physique.
The reason, he said, is to gain explosion at the line of scrimmage and to increase his sack total. Last year, he made a career-high seven sacks. But he said there were a handful of would-have-been sacks he felt he left on the field last year. Fangio agreed.
"I think he's got to improve his technique and just the little things that go into becoming a top pass rusher," Fangio said. "And he's shown that he's on his way to doing that so far this camp. But I think he's got a whole lot more that he can give us in the pass rush than he gave us last year."
Harbaugh's flop The 49ers ended their twilight practice with a two-minute drive for a field goal. The guy who lined up to kick was none other than the head coach.
And Jim Harbaugh didn't just pantomime kicking the game winner. He called for a fake. As he ran past the holder assistant special-teams coach Tracy Smith Smith flipped the ball to Harbaugh, who took it, cut upfield and then fell face first.
The players thought it was the most hilarious thing they'd ever seen. The 49ers have a day off today.
Injuries Wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Joe Hastings, cornerback Curtis Holcomb, tight end Nate Byham and rookie guard Joe Looney did not participate in practice. Guard Mike Iupati was excused for the birth of his first child.