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July 3, 2013
DA unsure whether to charge 49ers Brooks for assaulting teammate

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Authorities are weighing whether to an issue an arrest warrant for Ahmad Brooks after the 49ers starting outside linebacker allegedly struck his teammate over the head with a beer bottle three times last month, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office.

The incident occurred in the early morning hours of June 8 after Brooks, 49ers nose tackle Lamar Divens and two other teammates -- identified in a police report as rookie defensive linemen Lawrence Okoye and Mike Purcell -- had been drinking in San Jose.

According to a court report obtained by The Mercury News, the group returned to Brooks' home. After Divens initially refused to give a "very drunk" Brooks his car keys, Brooks hit him repeatedly over the head with a Heineken bottle, opening a three-inch gash that needed to be closed with stitches.

Police took an initial report but Divens, five days later, declined to press charges, telling police that doing so would be "bad for both of their careers." The District Attorney's office had been poised to obtain a felony arrest warrant last week, but the warrant was put on hold and no decision has been made on whether the case will be pursued.

Divens, meanwhile, was absent for the first day of the 49ers minicamp, which began June 11. He arrived the next day but did not participate. Brooks did not take part due to what defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said was a shoulder injury. Brooks was rehabilitating with several 49ers veteran players during the minicamp. Multiple calls to Brooks' agent last month were not returned.

Violence among NFL players is nothing new, especially during the offseason. Last year, for instance, the 49ers' other starting linebacker, Aldon Smith, was stabbed at a party he threw at his home on June 30.

There is added scrutiny this year, however, in the wake of Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's arrest in the slaying of Odin Lloyd, whose body was found near Hernandez's home in Massachusetts. Hernandez also is being investigated in relation to double murder that occurred in July 2012 in Boston. Brooks, meanwhile, allegedly shouted to Divens, "Do I need to get my (expletive) gun at the house?" before striking him with the bottle, according to a police report filed with the case.

Brooks, 29, was USA Today's defensive player of the year as a Virginia prep star in 2001 but only recently began to fulfill his vast potential.

At the University of Virginia, he was an inside linebacker who also was used to return kicks, and he was a Butkus Award finalist following his sophomore season. But he was dismissed from the team his junior year by then head coach Al Groh for frequent rules violations.

The Bengals selected him in the third round of the 2006 supplemental draft -- just before the 49ers were poised to take him. He played 11 games at inside linebacker as a rookie in Cincinnati. A groin injury the following year ended his season, and he was cut before the 2008 regular season at which time the 49ers acquired him. In May of that year he was charged with assault after a Kentucky woman accused him of punching her in the eye.

Brooks struggled early on with the 49ers, and then general manager Scot McCloughan recently said that he had to fight for Brooks to remain on the roster. Brooks eventually established a role as a pass-rush specialist at outside linebacker, finishing with a combined 11 sacks in 2009 and 2010.

Before the 2011 season, new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio decided to make Brooks a starter for the first time with the 49ers. Brooks said he experienced an awakening after the death of his father, former NFL player Perry Brooks, in 2010. In his new, high-profile role, Brooks had the best season of his career, starting 16 games and finishing with seven sacks and 50 tackles. He signed a six-year, $44.5 million deal in February 2012.

Last year when injuries to Justin Smith and Aldon Smith diminished the 49ers' pass rush late in the season, Brooks and defensive end Ray McDonald elevated their games. Brooks was particularly good at the close of the NFC Championship game, batting down a Matt Ryan pass and hitting the Falcons quarterback -- and causing a shoulder injury -- during Atlanta's final drive.

The 49ers have considerably more depth at outside linebacker than they did a year ago. Veteran Parys Haralson is healthy again after tearing his triceps tendon in August. The team also used a third-round draft pick on Corey Lemonier, who will compete with holdover Cam Johnson and free-agent acquisition Dan Skuta for playing time. 2012 draft pick Darius Fleming has been moved from outside to inside linebacker.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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