Linebacker Ahmad Brooks was excused from Wednesday’s practice for a family matter that 49ers coach Jim Tomsula indicated was serious in nature.
“Keep him in our prayers,” Tomsula said.
Brooks is one of the few holdovers from the defenses that Giants quarterback Eli Manning battled against in recent years, including in the 2011 NFC championship game. Manning won that contest but was sacked six times and absorbed 12 hits from the likes of Brooks, Aldon Smith, Justin Smith and Ray McDonald.
Now most of those familiar faces are gone.
“They had it going pretty good there, maybe one of the best front sevens in the league,” Manning said Wednesday on a conference call. “With their linebackers, outside linebackers and defensive line, it was a tough front to go against.”
“I think they’re still good up front,” Manning said. “They have good players. With the 3-4 (scheme), they can bring a lot of guys from different spots. We’ve got to make sure we’re prepared for that and are sharp in our assignments.”
Corey Lemonier will fill in for Brooks during missed practices. Tomsula said he didn’t know how long Brooks would be out.
Brooks’ absence is not related to facing misdemeanor sexual battery charges stemming from a December 2014 incident at former teammate McDonald’s house.
Hodges arrives – Inside linebacker Gerald Hodges, acquired in the trade for center Nick Easton on Tuesday, passed his physical and was on the practice field.
Tomsula disputed the notion that the team added Hodges because it was unhappy with the way starter Michael Wilhoite has played. “There’s nothing there,” Tomsula said.
He said the 49ers have liked Hodges since he came out of Penn State in the 2013 draft. The Vikings selected Hodges in the fourth round; San Francisco picked Nick Moody, who is now on Seattle’s practice squad, in the sixth round that year.
“This (trade) became available and we picked up a guy that we think is a good football player,” Tomsula said. “That is nuts and bolts (of) exactly what that is.”
Hodges played in a 4-3 scheme in Minnesota and must adjust to a 3-4 alignment with his new team. But he said he didn’t think the transition will be too daunting.
“It’s football, man,” he said. “If you know the concepts, it shouldn’t take too long.”
O-linemen rest – Left tackle Joe Staley (knee) and left guard Alex Boone (ankle) were given a day of rest Wednesday. Tomsula said both were dealing with minor injuries sustained in Sunday’s game against the Packers.
Sixth-round draft pick Ian Silberman will fill in for Boone while seventh rounder Trent Brown will take repetitions for Staley. After the 49ers traded Easton to the Vikings Tuesday, Silberman is now the top backup at center and guard.
Injuries – Boone, Staley, Brooks, linebacker NaVorro Bowman (not injury related) and receiver Quinton Patton (concussion) did not practice Wednesday.
▪ Tight end Vernon Davis (knee) was limited. So were safety L.J. McCray (knee) and tight end Vance McDonald (chest), who wore a blue jersey signaling he was not to be hit in practice.
▪ For the Giants, defensive end Robert Ayers (hamstring), receiver Victor Cruz (calf), cornerback Jayron Hosley (concussion), linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring), cornerback Trumaine McBride (groin) and defensive end George Selvie (calf) did not practice.